|Chigara Lynn Ashada|
|Occupation||Engineer, Freelance Pastry Chef|
|Rank||Sunrider Chief Engineer|
|Family||Mother & Father (deceased)|
Chigara Lynn Ashada is a companion character in Sunrider.
Shy, soft-spoken and bookish, Chigara prefers tinkering with gadgets over most forms of human interaction. She has a bashful but decidedly cute personality and prefers to avoid the spotlight if at all possible, simply being a help tending to be reward enough for her. However, Chigara’s savant level intelligence and her innate talent with technology often places her at the center of attention, especially in engineering circles. Notwithstanding her talents, Chigara’s dream in life is to open a bakery shop and assume a life of normalcy… far away from any galactic heroics. Her English Voice Actress is Mary Morgan, and her Japanese Voice Actress is Yomogi Kasumi.
Spirit: She is withdrawn but very kind-hearted, always wanting to help others.
Being slightly shorter then her friend Asaga Oakrun and the crew in general, Chigara is a small and petite girl with a slender frame and gentle build, seeming comparable to a china-doll figurine in terms of body-proportions and figure. Like Sola vi Ryuvia, she can be considered a delicately-attractive girl but is far more approachable then the Ryuvian princess, though she can arguably be called more "cute" as opposed to "attractive". She has the least-obtrusive figure among the women in the ship, which often depresses her to no end, and a soft voice that Kayto in the Novel describes as being melodious. She has fair skin and short-cut periwinkle-blue hair with clipped bangs that fall partway down her face which, while not really styled or done up, she keeps fastened with her self-made multipurpose hair-clip. She has sapphire-blue eyes that tend to reflect either thoughtfulness, curiosity or bashfulness and a soft complexion that is normally either smiling happily yet anxiously, smiling more openly when lost in her work or simply expressing palpable nervousness or timidness, though she seems to recover quickly enough in most circumstances.
When on the Sunrider, Icari wears the standard "Sailor girl" uniform of the Cera Space Force's female crew-members - a black miniskirt with two gold stripes around the edge, a black long-sleeved blouse with white cuffs and gold buttons and cufflinks, both with gold accents, a white sailor-collar/neckerchief with two gold stripes fastened with a gold bow in the front, black stockings with gold embroidery at the tops and black slipper-shoes with a gold buckle on each. When on combat duty, she wears the standard Ryder-pilot armor-mesh suit, colored sapphire-blue, and - likely when she does not have the time to change between shifts or wishes to wear something more durable in her experiments and duties then her crew uniform - she will occasionally wear a white laboratory-coat over her armor. One major point of note is her ever-present hair-ribbon, which is actually one of her inventions - a small, multipurpose device that can function as a variety of defensive mechanisms such as a taser, as well as a music-player, flashlight, digital clock and automatic hair-cleaning system among many other things.
Note: (WARNING - Spoilers ahead for the plot of Sunrider: First Arrival, Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius, Sunrider: Liberation Day, Sunrider Academy & Sunrider: The Novelization. . Read at your own risk!!)
Early Life & Catastrophe
Little is truly known about Chigara's past aside form the fact that she was, to her knowledge, the single child of two loving parents, both gifted scientists of the colony of Diode with Chigara's father being the head developer of the Paradox Project. Chigara claims she had actually been born on the Diode research station and lived her childhood aboard it, the isolated living environment likely contributing to her social awkwardness even before the events that thrust her into the galaxy. Her parents, according to Chigara, were more intelligent then she would be even years later; one of their projects was focused on developing advanced life-supports that could stabilize critically wounded and working to improve it to the point that it could even resuscitate a clinically brain-dead patient and restore neural activity. Another was to develop a method to synthesize advanced machines and constructs out of thin air - described in the Novel as being done through research in the field of nano-technology, her parents attempting to develop it into working examples of femtotechnology; machines the size of molecules.
Between her parent's intellect and being surrounded and raised by scientists of all disciplines and walks of life on what was basically a laboratory colony, Chigara grew up with both a strong interest and large degree of first-hand experience in many fields of sciences and physics, which helped to shape her prodigious ability to work with and improve nearly any type of mechanical object. It is also possible that exposure to the field of chemistry might be what inspired her love of baking as the two share a peripheral field. Adding to this was the fact that the scientists who worked at Diode were arguably the best and brightest in the galaxy at the time and all at the top of their fields, surpassing the scientific teams most worlds of factions could gather with the sole possible exceptions being The Solar Alliance and PACT, making Chigara nothing short of a genius by average standards.
However, this arguably ideally life came to an abrupt end when her family began their actual test-run of the Paradox Project - a study into the effect black holes had on time and space, hoping to begin more in-depth research into temporal manipulation which, in the Novelization, was done at Diode due to the unique circumstances of the black hole there as the singularity had nearly exhausted it's spin. They had cross-checked their data multiple times before the project was initialized, confident that their calculations were all correct - but the one thing they could never account for was sabotage, later revealed to have been enacted by a race of genetically-engineered humans. The result was nothing short of horrific; the artificial singularity went out of control, expanding and growing in size and power until it broke free of the Paradox Core's scaffolds and obliterated the research station.
The singularity completely destroyed the research station, as well as consuming more then half the planet of Diode itself, before finally becoming unstable and collapsing in on itself, leaving the world a ruined husk with it's core exposed and surrounded by an asteroid field left by whatever fragments of it hadn't been pulled into the black hole. This tragic event became known to the rest of the galaxy as the Diode Catastrophe, with Chigara being the only one to survive it, citing she had barely managed to make it to an escape pod in time in all the confusion. After having watched her family, friends and entire life be destroyed by the very brainchild that was meant to be their crowning achievement, the final memories of her past were colored with terror lifepod struggled to escape the edge of the singularity's event horizon while much of Diode crumbled and broke apart behind her, leaving her emotionally traumatized.
In the end, barely anyone from the Diode colony escaped the tragedy, and Chigara herself was the only survivor from the central research station - and in turn living out the much of her life afterwords without ever knowing what the cause of the catastrophe had been, haunted not only by the loss but by the impossibility of the failure. Chigara would sometimes try to puzzle out what had happened but never managed to figure out on her own what had gone wrong, and the painful nature of the memories likely discouraged her dwelling on the past for too long, forcing her to either be dragged down by it or try to pick up whatever pieces she had of her life and move on. In the end, she choose the latter.
Befriending a Princess
After the disaster, Chigara ended up on Ryuvia Prime, former capital world of Ryuvia's Empire and the rumored original birthplace of humanity. Scarred mentally by her past, having had no social interaction outside the insulated environment of the Diode research colony and with nobody to trust and no reason to connect to others, Chigara became one of many struggling refugees forced into maturing quickly and working hard in order to make ends met and support herself. She managed to procure a job and, shy and introverted as she was, Chigara didn't try to live a life but rather simply survive in the harsh galaxy, fortunate only for the fact that Ryuvia was not quite as bad off as many of the Neutral Rim worlds she could have ended up on.
Then, roughly a year after Diode's destruction, Chigara's life one day took an unexpected turn as, lost on her way to her job, she asked a pair of relatively decent men for directions. However, before they could answer her, they were interrupted by a rather boisterous red-haired young girl who had misinterpreted the situation entirely, assuming the men were harassing Chigara. The men barely even got a chance to defend themselves from the girl's triage of accusations, and soon enough became too enraged by her slander to even care about trying as the girl didn't believe them when they tried to protest. Ultimately it became a physical confrontation in the making, forcing Chigara to intervene lest the girl be injured for trying to help - even though it had been the red-head's own actions that caused a fiasco to begin with - and used one of her hair-clip's functions to temporarily stun the men into submission long enough for Chigara and the girl to escape.
After they had run away, Chigara thanked the girl for help, much to the girl's satisfaction - though it was cut short when Chigara informed the then-mortified redhead that the men she verbally assaulted had in fact been helping Chigara on her own request. Embarrassed by having caused a scene due to her misinterpretation, the girl offers an apology, though Chigara brushes this off and apologizes herself for the girl having gone to such lengths just because she thought Chigara was in trouble. At this point the girl finally goes about introducing herself - shockingly - as being Asaga di Ryuvia, daughter of King Jaylor di Ryuvia XII and Crown Princess of Ryuvia, which Chigara initially believes to be a joke.
However, Chigara learns soon enough, to her dumbstruck amazement, that Asaga was being honest about her status as Ryuvian Royalty, leaving Chigara stunned as Asaga's outgoing, energetic personality was not what she had been expecting of a Princess, nor did Asaga see her titles as anything noteworthy since she didn't believe it was what defined her. In fact, Asaga rather implicitly asked Chigara not to acknowledge her as royalty and requests that the only prerequisite Chigara follow in being her friend is to treat her as a normal person. Chigara, while anxious and reluctant to do so as she feared it would signify disrespect to the Ryuvian Dynasty, ultimately accepts this request and treats Asaga as though she is simply a regular girl, much to the latter's joy and marking the start of their friendship.
On the Run
Chigara and Asaga soon became inseparable companions, sharing much of their pasts with each-other as well as their respective dreams in life - Asaga's being to leave for the stars and be an adventurer, and, on a more fantastical note, to become a hero that people could look up to, while Chigara's was a humble wish to own a bakery and have a family one day - and they took to helping the other whenever possible. The condition for this though was that it was always through their own merits as Asaga refused to make use of her royal status, seeing the act of doing so as being a crutch, while Chigara's skills in sciences let her hold down a job admirably and support herself - a pattern the duo would follow for at least a year or two.
However, they soon come to do more then help each-other and instead depend on each-other as the situation in the galaxy slowly degraded when PACT, formally a revolutionist faction, became a fiercely expansionistic military power that rapidly overtook many worlds, encroaching slowly but surely on Ryuvia Prime. Around this time, Asaga's mother passed away from unknown causes and Asaga's father fell ill shortly after, leaving the royal courts in chaos without an effective leader. Political deadlock swiftly consumed what remained of the courts as Asaga was repeatedly pushed to fill her parents role and persistently refused, not wishing to sacrifice her independence for a forced coronation just to appease the politicians.
One fateful day however, Asaga burst into Chigara's apartment in hysterics, revealing that King Jaylor, in order to spare Ryuvia Prime from PACT's invading forces in the Rim, had promised Asaga's hand in an arranged marriage to the faction's leader - Veniczar S. Arcadius. Asaga, having seen the Veniczar's personality at least once by this point in time, wished nothing to do with the tyrant and thus, after a long and hard debate between the two, Chigara and Asaga ultimately decided to flee Ryuvia Prime and the marriage, with Chigara coming along after realizing that Asaga would never stay on Ryuvia after what her father had done and thus that going with her was all she could do to protect her best friend. Making their way to the spaceports, the pair fled the planet on an outbound ship and into the galaxy at large, free but with nobody to rely on. Except for each-other.
Left with no choice but to work hard in order to survive the lawless Neutral Rim territories, the pair opted to try and make a living as freelancers doing odd-jobs for whoever could pay, though Asaga made it a point to only accept contracts from people who weren't morally bankrupt such as pirates. As Asaga had proven to be extremely competent in piloting a Ryder in her simulators at home and Chigara was a brilliant engineer, the two pooled their respective skills in order to work towards being a mercenary Ryder-pilot and service crew. However, they soon realized they couldn't settle on a civilized world due to Arcadius likely still searching for Asaga, meaning that any world wishing to escape PACT's wrath or in the faction's sights would run the risk of their discovery. And if the population didn't turn on them in order to gain PACT's favor and in fact tried to help them, it could end out even worse as, should they stay in one place for too long, their presence would be found out eventually and would bring Arcadius down on the system in force, using Asaga's presence as the excuse for an invasion - something Asaga could not stomach as it would mean innocent people would die on her account. Therefore, Chigara and Asaga took to an almost nomadic lifestyle and, whenever they did put down roots for a time, never settled on a planet itself.
As they completed jobs - Asaga flying escorts while Chigara worked as a mechanic - the pair managed to gain some repute with the Mining Union and became regulars with them, and in turn Asaga ended up becoming a firm adversary of the pirate mogul Cosette Cosmos. During this time, Asaga flew fighter-craft cobbled together from salvaged surplus military gear, most of which was barely more then what Chigara could call "junk" - and considering how innovative the mechanic was, Chigara could not have made such a statement lightly, which in turn serves as a testament to Asaga's piloting skills if she was capable of engaging other craft or assumedly even Ryders in such a ramshackle machine. As a result, Chigara constantly worried that Asaga would be outmatched not by skill but by a lack of capable hardware and worked toward providing her with a machine that could even the odds. Eventually, Chigara able to use the salvage and funds collected from their jobs to construct a customized Ryder for Asaga to pilot - the Black Jack - which was over time upgraded until it became an extremely versatile machine that could match Asaga's growing skills as a pilot.
Later, as the pair completed jobs - Asaga's being in escorts and anti-pirate missions while Chigara's were in running a starship repair garage - they eventually gathered the resources needed for Chigara to construct a secondary Ryder, the Liberty. Unlike the Back Jack was a purely support-based Ryder that used a shield-projector, repair drones and an electronic warfare suite, designed for Chigara to pilot herself as a back-up unit for Asaga's Black Jack in the event that the latter found herself outgunned or outnumbered too badly, though Asaga's skill made these instances rare.
This working formula allowed the pair to do relatively well for themselves, making enough money between hem to keep moving their operation whenever needed, such as when or if PACT started to get too close to the system they were working out of. Eventually, they settled a semi-permanent arrangement on the Mining Union world of Tydaria - protected for the time being from PACT by both rampant piracy and the Mining Union's neutrality - where they began renting a small space-station drydock from the Union and repurposed it as a base. It also, at Asaga's urging, was done for Chigara to settle down somewhat and try to run the bakery she'd talked about, even though Chigara found the idea of a starship garage having a bakery rather strange and doubted it would see much business. However, through Asaga's constant - albeit possibly misplaced - enthusiasm and support, Chigara relented and opened the "Stardust Bakery & Starport Workshop" and, while her baking job did not see much business just as Chigara predicted and it was awkward at best in trying to sell pastries alongside repair services, the Diode survivor did find herself enjoying the experience nonetheless.
A Surprising Customer
After roughly a year of working in the Bakery/Starport, Chigara's pattern of daily life was broken when a damaged Ceran vessel arrived, which Asaga had assisted in a battle with Cosette's raiders. However, the executive officers of the ship - identifying themselves as Captain Kayto Shields and First Officer Ava Crescentia of the Ceran military vessel Sunrider - express confusion upon meeting the self-proclaimed baker via holographic communication as they had believed her to have just been a mechanic, Asaga having forgotten to mention her partner in crime's side-profession. Anxious as always, Chigara promptly offers her services as both a baker and a mechanic - and expresses disappointment in the Novelization when Kayto confirms they require only a mechanic, chastising herself a moment later in that she ought to have known a damaged ship would want repairs first and foremost. Asking permission to scan their ship, then to come aboard to visibly assess the the ship's condition herself and determine a rough quote, Chigara is surprised yet relieved to hear from the Captain that Asaga is actually aboard as she was getting worried about how long her friend was gone.
After coming aboard, Chigara, dressed in her pilot-suit with a lab-coat, shyly notes that Asaga brought friends back home with her this time, to which Asaga introduces Kayto and Ava to Chigara - though Ava expresses discontent at Asaga calling her a "lady". Chigara promptly, if bashfully, exchanges a greeting with the Captain before Kayto asks about the nature of her hybridized business and choice to create a bakery, to which Chigara abashedly states it's the best and, as Asaga quickly points out, only place on Tydaria to obtain baked goods. However, Chigara quickly becomes dejected when she confesses that she sells less pastries then she does ship-repair services, with Kayto unwittingly compounding the situation by asking why she is trying to run a bakery alongside a dry-dock to begin with. In spite of Asaga trying to come to her rescue by chastising Kayto's critique of her desire to run a bakery, Chigara glumly admits that trying to run a bakery while managing a repair shop might not be the most productive choice out in the Neutral Rim, denoting how troublesome and uncomfortable it is trying to sell cupcakes alongside starship fuel.
She soon regains her spirits slightly when Kayto, recognizing the awkward atmosphere he created, changes the topic and instead remarks that he finds it odd a pair of girls like them would be out in this system. Chigara thus explains the nature of the duo's contract with the Mining Union, as well as how, since the planet is one of the Union's key prospects, she gets more then enough business to make a relatively-comfortable living so long as she continues to be the closest and best mechanic they have - though she again becomes depressed when noting that they are nowhere near as supportive of the bakery side of her career. Kayto however corrects her by explaining that he had meant it odd to see a pair like Chigara and Asaga in this line of work at all, as they don't seem the type who were born into the freelancing world. Chigara - illustrated in the Novel as becoming somewhat disinterested by the question due to not actually wanting to talk about this particular topic - remarks herself as being someone like Asaga, to which Kayto assumes she means freelancing and Chigaa in turn rolls along with in the hopes that it ends the inquiry faster.
Kayto then asks what the cost of repairs will be, to which Chigara, after a short appraisal, notes that much of the damage is to the outer hull - and in the Novel, she notes the electrical system is badly crippled as well - and remarks that it will not be difficult for her to repair - illustrated in the Novel by Chigara estimating a week or so being all she needs to restore the Sunrider to working order and that it won't cost more then half of what the ship was awarded from their bounty in defeating Cosette's pirates. Kayto is initially skeptical of this, explaining that repairing a warship, let alone a prototype one, from battle-damage is a far cry from performing maintenance on a mining vessel for meteorite impacts. In the Novel, Kayto goes on to explain the Sunrider was Cera's most advanced prototype vessel and that even their own crew, who had spent years of exclusive training in how to operate and maintain it, could not get the ship running in anywhere near that short a timeframe even if they'd had unrestricted resources and that it took a week simply to restore the core systems to base functionality.
Asaga, much to Chigara's embarrassment, boasts that the demure mechanic is capable of restoring or improving any technological equipment in existence, which prompts Kayto to direct the pair to a damaged power converter - revealed as being the central regulator for providing electricity to the entire hangar and it's twelve individual Ryder bays - that had taken twelve of Cera's best engineers a month to develop, claiming it to be impossible for Chigara to be able to fix such a device so easily. However, Chigara, recognizing the configuration, sheepishly admits she had once built a power converter in her sleep not long ago, having woken up one day to find it sitting on her bed with her. Retrieving the new unit - assumedly from her transport - and installing it, noting in the Novel that the damage to the electrical grid was not extremely severe due to the auxiliaries soaking up much of the overload, Kayto is thus shocked to see that not only does it function but it works better then the original, noting that overall power efficiency to the bay has undergone a 20% increase. Asaga rather proudly boasts that Kayto underestimated Chigara, with the latter giving a small, embarrassed laugh as she tries to brush off Asaga's praise. Kayto, amazed and impressed, thus agrees to let Chigara work on repairing the Sunrider with Ava overseeing the engineer's progress, the Captain denoting that he will be too busy trying to figure out how he is supposed to write about this event in his logs.
From Baker to Godsend
In the following week, Chigara, much to her surprise and embarrassment, becomes akin to a celebrity among the Sunrider's engineering staff, having restored a majority of the vessel's capabilities in only two days and getting the ship back to complete operational status soon after - which in the Novel is noted as being done through customized repairs, bypass-jobs and innovative fixes that many engineers could not even begin to attempt, let alone accomplish, and bringing a vast array of tools and equipment to the Sunrider's hangar bay as she sets about her work. Chigara herself sets up shop in the Sunrider's currently-inert research labs and engineering bays, continually tinkering on the vessel's components as the days go by. However, in the Novel, Chigara notes that the Sunrider's supplementary shield generator - a placeholder for the more advanced unit the ship was supposed to have installed later on and in turn blown out during their escape from PACT in the Novelization - was ruined beyond even her ability to repair as the core components were all shot and fried, requiring replacement parts be purchased or assembled from scratch.
During this time, Asaga surprises Chigara by telling her she'd decided on the spur-of-the-moment to offer herself as the Sunrider's new Ryder pilot, asking that Chigara come with her as far as Cosette's pirate base to help out. Chigara's exact reaction is never shown, but she may have internally been hesitant to abandon her repair-shop & bakery so suddenly, though Asaga likely pushed with how it was her chance to stop running and face down PACT to try and fix some of the damage they had caused, and, more importantly, a chance for Chigara to actually be able to permanently settle down one day and have a real bakery planetside once it was all over. Eventually, after telling her she convinced the Sunrider crew to help her clear out Cosette's pirates so that Tydaria will be safe without Asaga around, Chigara agrees to come and Asaga gleefully has Chigara's Ryder brought aboard the ship - without even informing Kayto or Ava of doing so at that.
However, Asaga - in a moment of foresight as she realizes anything may happen - also hands Chigara a data-crystal with a pre-made recording should the absolute worst happen and Asaga end up captured by PACT, telling her only to give it to Kayto should this event happen. Chigara likely regards this action with trepidation as it means Asaga considers it a serious possibility she may end up discovered and captured, but nonetheless accepts. Chigara is ultimately still lost in thought when Kayto visits her on a tour of the repaired ship to observe her progress - which in the Novel shocks her so badly that she drops her holopad and pulls off her hair-ribbon, potentially coming close to tasering him with one of it's self-defense functions until she sees who he is.
Kayto then asks about Chigara's aptitude with technology - which in the Novel is brought up when Chigara denotes she finds it odd that the ship has a research bay at all, Kayto explaining that the Sunrider was designed as a self-sufficient, long-term-engagement ship meant to adapt and upgrade itself and it's Ryders on the fly and operate for extended periods of time without direct resource assistance from Cera. The Novel then shows the Captain complimenting the engineer for her ability to repair the ship as not even Cera's trained crews could maintenance a vessel so quickly, citing that the engineering crew has nothing but praise for her and questioning how she is so skilled with machines. Chigara explains it largely being due to her life as the daughter of two scientists, though not many of her "people" - natives of the Diode colony - still exist anymore as most, if not all, were killed in the cataclysm that orphaned her. Comparing herself to her parents, Chigara admits her own skills, considered extraordinary to most people, were nothing special compared to what her mother and father could do and that her work is anything but noteworthy next to her parent's studies.
Chigara is then asked by Kayto about her past, revealing Asaga let slip that Chigara was a refugee from a now-destroyed world - and in the Novel, Kayto goes a step further by correctly deducing that someone as skilled as her could only have come from the science colonies of Diode. Chigara, momentary taken aback, admits she was in fact the only known survivor of Diode's primary colony, with Kayto briefly commenting on the event and offering his condolences. Chigara, becoming depressed at the memory, admits it had been a terrible event to witness and that she had been alone until meeting Asaga before quickly asking they not talk about it anymore, the experience still deeply affecting her even six years after the fact, to which Kayto quickly agrees and apologizes for his inadvertently-intrusive question.
Changing the depressing topic, Kayto asks about Asaga's Ryder, to which Chigara tells Kayto the story of how she built it to replace Asaga's original surplus fighter, becoming flustered when Kayto cites the Black Jack as being an engineering marvel of Ryder technology - though the Novel shows the now-blushing Chigara waiving off the praise by citing she didn't need to worry about industry-feasible needs such as standardized components or mass-production requirements when creating the Black Jack. Kayto further notes Chigara could revolutionize the galaxy with her skills, the engineer shyly yet humbly replying that she'd rather be able to open her bakery and life a quiet, fulfilling life then be a celebrity or corporate innovator.
Kayto then asks if Chigara can pilot a Ryder as well and Chigara informs Kayto about her own machine, the Liberty - another self-built unit, though she doesn't take it out often as Asaga and the Black Jack can typically handle most missions alone. Eager for any extra help, Kayto asks if the machine can be brought aboard, which prompts Chigara to sheepishly admit Asaga has already done so and hadn't gotten to telling Kayto or Ava about it yet. Kayto however is bemused by this and cites that they will be taking off soon to clear out Cosette's base, with Chigara returning to her work soon after he leaves - though she likely is left flattered that the captain has taken the time to come and speak with her nonetheless.
Not long after the Sunrider leaves the Stardust drydock, Kayto calls Chigara to an impromptu strategy meeting alongside Ava and Asaga, noting that Cosette's pirates - dug into an asteroid field near Tyderia's moon and, in the Novel, are revealed to be aware the Sunrider is coming. - will not be easy to root out even with it's two new pilots and full combat capability restored, due to how heavily reinforced the pirate base is. Asaga remains undaunted while Chigara is largely silent until Ava directs attention onto her, noting that Chigara will be the one working on upgrading the ship and their Ryders so as to give them an advantage in the coming battles. Bashfully introducing herself to the C.I.C. Bridge crew, Chigara explains that she can quickly have the ship's research and development section in full working capacity, the sole requirement being the funds to allocate towards improving pre-existing components and systems or obtaining new ones altogether, with Kayto denoting they will need to do freelance work in addition to collecting bounties offered for the destruction of every PACT or pirate target they defeat in order to steadily improve their equipment.
To this end, both Ava and Asaga offer up potential missions for the Sunrider to fulfill - Asaga's being a raid against a slaver convoy and Ava's being a strike against a PACT communications spire. Chigara also is shown to worriedly regard whoever's proposal was ultimately refused, such as when Kayto turned down Ava's in the Novelization, and she likely shows similar concern for Asaga if Kayto chooses to turn down her proposal. If Kayto elects to liberate the slaves, Asaga urges Kayto to leave the slavers to die of starvation in space by blocking their distress signals, while Chigara, horrified by Asaga's lack of mercy and knowing all-too-well the cruel fate of being alone in an escape pod for an extended period of time, urges Kayto to simply arrest the slavers as making them suffer will not fix what they did. Chigara additionally proves her competence as a Ryder pilot by serving as the stand-in for the Sunrider's then-absent shield system, using her drones to repair the ship and Asaga's Black Jack in mid battle and use her own unit's cyberwarfare suite to influence the systems of her targets. Chigara likewise proves her competence should Kayto alternatively choose to down the PACT outpost instead, her hacking skills allowing her to swiftly and easily shut down and overwhelm even the military-grade software of PACT vessels, stations and Ryders so as to render them vulnerable to the Sunrider and the Black Jack. The Liberty's sensor suite additionally serves to compensate and enhance the targeting range of the Sunrider itself, interlinking their systems to provide more accurate tactical input data.
Following this, the Sunrider assaults Cosette's pirate base utilizing the compliments of their new Ryder units, the Liberty's electronic-cyberwarfare suite included. In the Novelization, Chigara's Liberty is illustrated as being utilized to keep the pirate base's primary systems disabled so as to allow the Sunrider and Black Jack to close in while picking off the Ryders and vessels, as well as the two providing support for the inert Liberty while it remains motionless, it's power supply devoted to keeping the pirate base's systems offline. As the Sunrider focuses on anti-missile flak support, the Black Jack begins disassembling the Pirate forces until the Sunrider can close the distance and fire on the pirate base itself, eventually coring it through use of it's Savior cannons and destroying Cosette's central base of operations, forcing the Pirate queen out of the system entirely.
Upon returning to the Sunrider, Chigara is greeted by Kayto, sheepishly brushing off his congratulations on her return and thanks for her assistance and bashfully denoting she felt her contribution was comparatively small compared to Asaga's efforts in close-range against the Ryders or the Sunrider itself in nullifying the missile attacks or destroying the pirate base itself. In the Novel, Kayto compounds his claim by pointing out that the base's defensive systems could have caused heavy damage to the Sunrider during it's approach had Chigara not kept their power grid and computer systems scrambled, which Chigara silently yet humbly accepts. Upon being questioned about her future plans, Chigara anxiously states she hasn't decided fully, though she notes that she'd be on her own with Asaga leaving on the Sunrider and that the bakery isn't exactly doing well - not to mention that repair work will likely dry up for the time being as Cosette is no longer around to assault the transports. In the Novelization, Chigara fumbles with her words as she tries to work her way towards requesting permission to stay on the Sunrider.
Kayto in turn proceeds to stun Chigara when he not only pre-empts her request to join the Sunrider with an invitation of his own, but - in the Novel - asks her to become the vessel's Chief Engineer as well as a support pilot, the dumbstruck Chigara questioning if Kayto even has the authority to spontaneously make private citizens or freelance civilians into senior officers. Kayto slyly replies that, as the Captain of the Sunrider - which effectively makes him the highest ranking military official of Cera remaining in the wake of the the Cera Space Force's dissolution - he indeed has the authority to make this decision himself.
The Novel additionally shows Kayto use this as justification by stating that, as Captain, it's his duty to ensure his ship is stocked and manned by only the most capable officers and staff, citing that Chigara's skills have more then earned her the offer, though he warns Chigara that she may end up becoming the busiest person on the Sunrider in working as both pilot and Chief Engineer. However, Chigara delightedly replies she can hardly refuse such an offer and thanks Kayto, bashfully telling him she will be in his care from here on out as she is directed to pick up her first assignments from Ava, saying she looks forward to working with him. It is likely at this point that Chigara begins developing her budding crush on the Captain in earnest for how quickly he is willing to accept her into the crew and entrust the upkeep of his vessel to her, humbling and flattering her with his level of faith in her as both a trustworthy person and competent engineer.
A Complicated Problem
Over the next few weeks, the Sunrider proceeds to attack PACT's holdings in the Neutral Rim at every opportunity, though their efforts hardly do much to forestall the faction's efforts. However, they soon enough receive attention from an unexpected client; Admiral Harold Grey of the Solar Alliance, requesting their assistance on behalf of President Alythe in evacuating civilian diplomatic officials from the planet of Versta before it is invaded by PACT, lest their deaths spark an open war. However, the simple mission proves to be more complicated then anticipated as PACT has already deployed advance scouting forces in Versta's space, which the Sunrider promptly runs into upon arriving in the system. In the Novel, Chigara additionally notes they ought to not wait until after dropping out of warp to save their respective games during down-time, much to Asaga's exasperated but begrudging agreement, as they launch in their Ryders - Chigara's deployment being behind Asaga as she takes the required 30 seconds of pre-flight start-up needed to ensure Ryder reactor-core stability and ignition-checks - and deploying the Liberty to the Sunrider's starboard side while the Black Jack takes the port side. In turn, the Liberty's sensor suite allows the vessel an accurate layout of the field of battle for the Sunrider to coordinate a counteroffensive against the encroaching PACT Mooks.
The arrival of an unidentified gold Ryder becomes a complication though as it engages the Sunrider's forces. In the Novelization, Chigara focuses on disabling one of the PACT Cruisers before it can open fire on the Sunrider, the Liberty's shields diminishing but not entirely stopping the laser fire from the PACT Ryders before Chigara counterattacks on the stricken cruiser alongside the Sunrider, sinking it in short order. Celebrations between Chigara and Asaga are cut short by Ava however, the latter remarking that they simply bested a PACT scouting force and that the invasion forces now know they're here, meaning their mission is now operating on borrowed time. Additionally, after the gold Ryder is downed by the Sunrider's forces, Chigara tows the disabled machine back to the Sunrider's hangar on Kayto's orders, the Captain's intent being to question and interrogate it's pilot.
Chigara, while present for the detainment procedures - likely to stand ready for finding and disabling any harmful tools their captive may have - stands off to the side anxiously as the recovered machine opens up to reveal it's pilot; a female mercenary and professional assassin, Icari Isidolde, who reveals she does not in fact work for PACT and claims to have attacked them by mistake in assuming the Ceran vessel was a PACT conscript due to the faction conquering Cera and claiming the surviving ships. After confiscating her weapons - enough concealed armaments to topple small-scale parliaments and governments - and conducting an initial interrogation of Icari, Kayto comes to discuss what he learned with Chigara and the crew; namely that Icari claims the Alliance military hired her to ensure the diplomats died at Versta and that the entire rescue mission was a sham. They were never intended to succeed and PACT's killing of the diplomatic envoy was planned by the Alliance military, so as to justify a kickoff of official war preparations against the expansionistic faction.
Chigara, engrossed in her work, once again fails to take notice of Kayto when he approaches, which in the Novel leads to Chigara abashedly admitting that being surprised is her typical reaction since, due to always being busy as Kayto warned she would be, she is always in the midst of something when someone wishes to speak with her. In turn though, when Kayto asks her opinion on the situation at Versta based on what Icari had claimed, she apologetically confesses that she doesn't hold much confidence in decisions outside of working with machines and doesn't feel qualified to know what the better choice is, believing Kayto, as the ship's Captain, is the one best suited to make the decisions. She therefore states that he wouldn't take any action if he didn't believe it to be the best one, saying he will have made the right call regardless of what option he picks as he isn't the kind of person to make such choices lightly.
Kayto, somewhat thankful for the praise, remarks that he feels Chigara is one of the most intelligent people he's ever met, though Chigara, abashed yet thankful, replies that her knowledge doesn't really extend past the realm of technology and science, her insular early life having limited her social experience and thus leaving her feeing awkward at best and out of place at worst when it comes to speaking with others. She further admits having marked trouble understanding other people, their connections to each-other and being confident enough to speak out to them. Kayto in turn bemusedly suggests that perhaps machines are simply easier to deal with then people - and in the Novelization comments that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, himself included, and that Chigara shouldn't sell herself short given how quickly she integrated into the Sunrider's crew, despite being a total stranger to many of them.
After reporting her success in setting up her equipment in the research section - even if still in basic levels of functionality - Kayto thanks Chigara for taking the time to speak with him, to which Chigara, feeling somewhat better about herself, happily states Kayto is free to speak with her whenever he wishes - though in the Novel she somewhat shyly asks if he could announce his presence the next time he does so, so as not to startle her in the future. In doing so, Chigara has already begun to subtly hint to Kayto that she already expects him to come by again in the future.
In the end, Chigara's promise to have faith in Kayto holds firm as he finally makes his decision on how to approach the budding fiasco.
NOTE: (based on what choice Kayto makes, there are two different outcomes to this)
A Complicated Problem I - Resolute Integrity
NOTE: (These events detail the result of Kayto rejecting Icari's advice and helping the diplomats)
As the Sunrider prepares to break the PACT blockade in order to escort the Agamemnon - the Diplomat's vessel - out of Versta, the ship is put on high-alert as Icari, having failed to persuade Kayto to see her side of things, escapes custody and slices through security to steal back her Phoenix and leave the Sunrider. Chigara and Asaga, currently on their break, are forced to rapidly try to save their in-progress video game, suit up and sortie in their Ryders in order to pursue the Phoenix. However, before they can attempt a chase, the PACT's invasion force drops into the system, forcing the Sunrider and it's Ryders to break off pursuit of Icari and focus on defending the ship. The situation becomes even more complicated when the Agamemnon's captain reveals that the diplomats had taken children aboard - six-hundred in total - to try and get them off of Versta at the request of their families, revealing why the diplomats had beforehand refused to take a shuttle off-world.
Promising to defend the vessel with her life - a rather personal sentiment as she what it means to be an orphaned refugee - Chigara assists Asaga in fighting off the PACT's forces in order to open a path for the Sunrider and Agamenmon to escape. In the Novelization, Chigara aids Asaga and the Sunrider in destroying the first of the PACT cruisers blocking the way, along with disabling the flak control of the other cruiser and helping the Black Jack mop up the incoming PACT bomber units. In the end, Asaga is able to critically damage Icari's rogue Ryder, though not before Icari manages to close the distance enough to be within firing range of the Agamemnon. However, Icari's will to follow through is shattered upon seeing one of the children staring back at her in terror, the mercenary choking up and breaking down as the vessel escapes.
After Kayto has the Ryders - Icari's included - return to the Sunrider and congratulates Asaga and Chigara for their efforts, the pilots then bear witness to Icari's arrest by Ava and the mercenary's solemn recounting for her reasons in hating PACT, to which Chigara displays shock and sympathy when Icari explains she was orphaned by them and had watched her family die in front of her; the latter being something Chigara is very much familiar with. Kayto then offers to let Icari join them if she agrees to do things their way; no unnecessary sacrifices. Icari tearfully accepts this offer, with Chigara nervously but graciously welcoming Icari to the crew - and in the Novel makes the request for them to always try to be on the same side from now on.
A Complicated Problem II - Concessions
NOTE: (These events detail the result of Kayto accepting Icari's advice and abandoning the diplomats)
As the Sunrider crew steadily makes preparations to leave Versta, Chigara and Asaga are surprised to hear Kayto say they are abandoning the rescue mission and leaving the diplomats behind - even more so when, should communications be opened, the diplomats inform the Sunrider crew that their vessel, the Agamemnon, took civilian children aboard as refugees, having made an offer of goodwill to get them off the planet; an offer they had no way of knowing would be worthless. However, Kayto remains resolute and closes the channel on the disbelieving and horrified diplomats, informing the crew the Sunrider's course is unchanged.
Asaga attempts to protest Kayto's choice, but Chigara - in spite of clearly being left ill-at-ease by the action - tries to pacify Asaga by citing it as a necessity to stop PACT, as the political scandal will motivate the Alliance to take serious action against PACT; the very plan Icari had outlined was Admiral Grey's goal. As the Sunrider deploys it's forces, Chigara and Asaga are surprised and weary at seeing Icari sortieing with them, the mercenary sarcastically remarking she felt they needed her help and revealing that she has Kayto's approval, effectively revealing she had a hand in Kayto's decision to abandon the Agamemnon. Chigara in turn uses her Liberty to defend the Sunrider and nullify the defenses of any incoming PACT vessels while Icari and Asaga work together to effectively cut through any PACT Ryders in their path.
However, much to the crew's surprise, the Agamemnon manages to reach the edge of Versta's gravity well, but by this point is too severely damaged to escape the system, it's engines crippled and it's hull torn open by PACT Ryders - and much to their shock and horror, a child can be seen looking at them in terror moments before the stricken vessel explodes, taking the diplomats and all six-hundred children with it. Chigara is left choking back tears from the sight, describing it as horrific to see as Asaga screams in frustration and sorrow. In the aftermath of the Agamemnon's destruction, the three Ryders quickly return to the Sunrider and push to escape Versta, leaving with the grim knowledge that they have managed to ensure the Alliance is ready for PACT but only at a rather distressing price.
Continuing Social Adjustments
In the weeks following the incident at Versta, the crew works to return the vessel to full working order and adapt to the addition of Icari to the ship's compliment, which Chigara contributes to by assisting Icari in repairing her damaged Ryder - the severity of which defers depending on whether or not she was an ally or an enemy at Versta. Later, Kayto again visits Chigara in the engineering section, startling and embarrassing her for the third time as she again is too caught up in her work to notice Kayto. Apologizing, Kayto remarks that Chigara seems easily engrossed in her work, the engineer abashedly affirming that she tends to lose awareness of her surroundings when tinkering on machinery or the like. In the Novel, Kayto suggests that Icari's presence may have made her more anxious, though Chigara replies she doesn't think this to be the case as, while she hasn't interacted with Icari often, she does believe Icari genuinely feels remorse for how the events at Versta played out.
Chigara takes the time to comment on the events at Versta in more detail - if the diplomats were saved, Chigara reinforces her belief that she doesn't believe there will be any issue in working with Icari in the future as they are now on the same side, as well as admitting she's happy as it is that the children were successfully saved. Consequentially, had the diplomats been abandoned, Chigara remarks on how horrible it was for her to see so many children die and admits that, even after living through Diode Catastrophe, she still hasn't gotten used to seeing death and destruction and muses that perhaps nobody can ever become fully acclimatized to it if Icari's state was any indication. She then depressively wonders if innocents dying in war is simply unavoidable, remarking that one reason she likes working with machines is because they are easy to fix compared to human beings.
Deciding to change the topic to something more lighthearted, Kayto asks how Chigara has been adjusting to the Sunrider itself, to which Chigara happily replies the Sunrider has been a wonderful vessel to serve aboard and may be the most advanced work of engineering that she has seen in her life, the technology aboard being rivaled or surpassed only by the projects on Diode. This causes Chigara to start excitedly listing off her calculations regarding the vessel's designs through energy-conversion models, declaring the Sunrider's fusion core makes it one of the most efficient in the galaxy while lacking the concern of radiation emissions. She is about to offer up suggestions on how to upgrade the fuel feeder but then belatedly realizes that she has derailed the conversation from it's original topic and, to her distress, cannot even remember what the original point had been. She in turn apologizes as she feels she may have wasted Kayto's time and fretfully asks Kayto to repeat his original question to get things back on track. Kayto obliging her relieves Chigara as she notes it wasn't exactly a severe issue such as an efficiency report or the like, reiterating that she has everything she needs and that Ava has helped her move all her things into place - possibly a testament to how much Ava respects Chigara's abilities - and that she has even managed to improve the efficiency of the research laboratory, much to Kayto's satisfaction.
Additionally, Kayto may also opt to humor Chigara's discussion about technicalities by revealing he knew about the fuel feeders - namely that she must have been referring to the freshly-released Mk II Praxium coating, which, in the Novelization, Kayto muses would cut back on Ongessite-reflex and increase the engine's fuel-to-thrust conversion ratio to improve engine operation speed. Chigara is initially stunned that Kayto knew what she was talking about before delightedly realizing that she and Kayto share knowledge in starship engineering and thus have a common ground to talk about, regarding him as a "gearhead" like herself. Kayto bemusedly remarks that learning how an experimental vessel operated, functioned and was maintained was something of a baseline requirement for captaining it. When Kayto takes his leave, Chigara, in the Novel, asks that he come by to visit her again whenever he can, gradually moving past her social awkwardness to speak with him more causally - something helped if humored about starship knowledge, as she may likely feel more comfortable speaking with him knoing he is knowledgable enough in engineering to at least hold a conversation with her.
Premonitions of Things to Come
Soon after, the Sunrider is given a contract that rather directly affects both Chigara and Asaga; a mission from King Jaylor di Ryuvia XII to find the long-lost Crown Jewel of Ryuvia. Unknown to the Captain and most of the crew, this in order locate his missing daughter, the Crown Princess of Ryuvia - Asaga, hunted by her father to be married off to Veniczar S. Arcadius in order to, as far as Asaga and Chigara know, preserve Ryuvia from PACT invasion. As such, the mission is possibly approached very tentatively and with marked dread by the pair as they realize that, should the Sunrider recover the Crown Jewel, Asaga's father and PACT will be able to track her anywhere in the galaxy, thereby meaning Asaga won't be able to hide anymore. However, the pair, even though they possibly have already deduced all of this, decide to keep their secret for a while longer - either in the hopes that perhaps a workaround will present itself, or simply because they are finally willing to end the masquerade and deal with it after the fact.
As the Sunrider enters the Nomodorn Corridor to begin it's search, they are, perhaps gratefully, offered a distraction in the form of an Alliance-licensed transport being assaulted by an old adversary; Cosette Cosmos. Deploying the vessel's Ryders, the Sunrider moves to intercept. In the Novelization, Chigara and Asaga provide support as Icari's more agile Ryder engages the pirate forces in advance, cutting down one of the opposing Ryders in a hit-and-run strategy to bait them as the Black Jack and Liberty close the distance to reinforce the Phoenix. As the Sunrider and Black Jack focus on the pirate vessels, Chigara engages the Liberty's counterintelligence suite and hacks into the operating systems of Cosette's Havoc, leaving it stricken and unable to provide support as the Pirate leader watches her forces be destroyed by the Sunrider.
However, the situation starts turning against them as Cosette reveals she has sided with PACT, a force led by Veniczar B. Cullen arriving to support her forces and attack the Mochi with renewed vigor - though the Sunrider ends up reinforced as the Mochi's pilot takes to battle herself in a customized pink Ryder, escaping the destruction of her vessel and assisting Chigara and the other Ryder pilots in driving the opposing pirates and PACT units back. Cosette herself though manages to escape - in the Novel by shutting down her Ryder's computers to cancel out Chigara's hacking of the automated systems, using manual overrides to bring the Havoc out of the battle - and Cullen pulls out while berating his men and the pirates for the failure.
An Equal and Opposite Force
After returning to the Sunrider, Chigara makes face-to-face contact with the pilot of the Mochi's Ryder - a pink-haired ditz of a woman named Claude Triello - who rather quickly earns Chigara's envy as the other female proves to be her exact opposite in every way; tall, curvaceous, outgoing, self-confident and lacking in restraint as she immediately attempts flirting with Kayto, much to the chagrin of not just Chigara but of Ava, Icari and Asaga as well. In turn, should Kayto comment on Claude's appearance, Chigara will jealously and depressively wonder if Kayto is interested in women with large breasts like Claude, appearing envious of how easily the pink-haired Ryder pilot has seemingly garnered Kayto's attention. As a result, Asaga's attempt to joke about the situation by suggesting Kayto is using seduction as an interrogation method likely only horrifies the periwinkle-haired girl. Like most of the crew in the Novelization, Chigara quietly expresses severe doubt when Claude professes herself to be a doctor, as well as muted anxiety and concern when Kayto is easily coerced by Claude into becoming the Sunrider's medical officer - attaining a senior staff position faster then Chigara or any other crew-member to-date - as well as embarrassment when Asaga denotes that Chigara has gained a "formidable rival" for Kayto's affections, the engineer left sputtering as she tries and fails to compute a response.
Shortly afterword, Chigara, among many of the crew, report to Claude for a medical check-up - the first the crew have had since leaving Cera - only to be left horrified and fearful upon being examined rather invasively, not to mention pervasively, by the sultry pinkette. In the Novel, this is highlighted by how Chigara is stunned to see the 'doctor' - dressed in something closer to what a strip-club employe would wear as a cosplay of a nurse's uniform - and weakly questions Claude's attire, the latter brushing it off as being a 'standard' medical uniform. Claude then barrages Chigara with a triage of questions about whether or not Chigara is in a relationship with Kayto, the periwinkle-haired girl left stricken and mortified as she belatedly asks what this has to do with her physical health or medical concerns. Claude in turn admonishes Chigara for being uncooperative, even as she proceeds to request Chigara strip naked to have her measurements taken and from there a more personal physical check as well as inadvertently - or perhaps not-so-inadvertently - flashing Chigara when Claude bends over to look for her medial equipment due to the latter's short skirt. This causes Chigara to suffer a panic attack and bolt out of the medical wing, terrified for her sanity and decency lest both be compromised by Claude's 'ministrations'.
In her mad dash to exit the med-bay, Chigara runs into Kayto, who notes that Chigara doesn't seem to look well, prompting the engineer to swallow down her mortified panic and agitation over the prior events to try reassuring Kayto that she'd simply been getting her 'check-up'. Kayto, not recognizing the true source of Chigara's distress, remarks he is happy that she is taking her health so seriously due to all the foreign goods and ports the Sunrider has docked at, to which Chigara - on the back of a nervous high-pitched false laugh in the Novel that barely covers up her lingering horror - remembers how Claude wished to 'check' her and, after confirming she'd been 'checked' more or less, quickly bids Kayto farewell so as to get as far away from Claude as humanly possible. However, Chigara soon realizes that she had forgotten her ID badge in the med-bay as a result of her panic attack. Returning to retrieve, Chigara is left stunned senseless at the sight of Kayto stark naked - save for his boxers in the Novelization - and promptly faints upon seeing him, pitching forward into the floor all while Ava is busy arresting Claude in the background for medical malpractice and her attempted molesting of a starship captain. In the Novel, Kayto tries to help the unconscious Chigara, but ends up tripping over his own tangled pants and landing atop her in an even more mortifying scene.
Discovering the Past
After recovering from the embarrassing ordeal as best she can, Chigara latter becomes aware that Claude actually had helpful information in their mission to locate the Ryuvian Crown Jewel - and in doing so, shorten the length of time Chigara and Asaga have before the latter's identity is exposed. However, at this point, Asaga seems to have accepted the fact that her masquerade is ending and focuses more on completing the mission, likely urging Chigara not to concern herself with the matter and that they will deal with the issue when it becomes a focus. Instead, they direct their attention towards helping the crew and not causing undue suspicion to be drawn onto them.
Upon reaching the Mnemosyne Abyss - the location Claude reported was the rumored site for a mass of ancient Ryuvian vessels - Chigara deploys as typical under Asaga's lead as they investigate the massive starship graveyard, while potentially still getting used to the addition of Claude to the Ryder wing as a comrade-in-arms; an assignment that is, in Chigara's mind, likely very much preferable to having the perverse woman as the Sunrider's doctor. As the Ryders approach the core of the aged fleet, they come upon a monolithic Ryuvian dreadnought that Chigara finds "eerily beautiful" in spite of the ghastly nature of it's surroundings and it's damaged state. She in turn becomes more excited as she notes that the ships are largely, almost perfectly preserved in spite of how much time they must have been adrift. Additionally, she learns though dating the ships - through measuring the decay-rate of their engine cores in the Novel - that the wrecks are at least two-thousand years old, as well as noting the ship's markings signify them as part of the Ryuvian Princess' Royal Guard.
Chigara is ordered by Kayto to scan the graveyard for the Crown Jewel, theorizing that, if the fleet had been part of the royal family's forces, it is likely that the Crown Jewel is somewhere amid the ships. Chigara's enthusiasm is smothered a bit though when Icari notes that the vessels were not the only things that lasted the test of time, the vacuum having flash-frozen and preserved the many corpses of the Ryuvian crew, much to Chigara's horror as she nauseously reports she will be closing her eyes for the time being. In the Novelization, Chigara also replies that Icari's feed is cutting out as an excuse to avoid watching the gory images, though she does however leave the comms open and overhears Icari's comments that the massive dreadnought seems to be the epicenter of the blast that decimated the fleet as the ships display more and more damage the deeper they go into the field's center. The engineer theorizes that the dreadnought must have deployed some form of area-of-effect weapon that radiated outwards, which left it intact yet devastated everything around it, noting that the technology in the vessel - by power requirements alone - could revolutionize modern starship technology and may very well be the most substantial discovery of Lost Technology made in the past century.
However, things begin taking a downturn as Asaga - blatantly disregarding her own safety and Kayto's orders for them to stick together - breaks off to enter the gargantuan vessel's hanger bay alone, though Chigara finds herself enraptured by the camera-feed from Asaga's Ryder nonetheless as it displays a honeycombed docking system large enough to store over a thousand Ryders. Even though Chigara finds it unsurprising that the Ryuvians had such facilities as they in invented Ryder technology in the first place, it does nothing to lessen the grandeur of their engineering feats. Icari sardonically asks if anyone thinks the crew is still frozen on the command deck, to which Chigara replies that they have yet to see any corpses in spite of the dreadnought's size. This in turn leads Chigara to excitedly ponder whether or not the dreadnought was manned by an Artificial Intelligence, refuting Icari's skepticism on whether or not such a thing is possible for a vessel so immense by pointing out the technology of the ancient Ryuvians, which far outstrip modern sciences, could very well have made it possible.
The conversation is cut short though when, in a brazen display of recklessness, Asaga exits her Ryder to enter the dreadnought's CIC, disregarding Icari and Kayto's warnings against doing so - and inadvertently seems to activate the ancient vessel after making the shocking discovery that someone was still alive aboard it; a white-haired girl, very likely an ancient Ryuvian, in suspended animation within a stasis tube aboard the bridge. Likely to Chigara's horror and panic, Asaga's feed then cuts out, the last image on it being of the Ryuvian girl seemingly ambushing her upon emerging from her stasis-induced sleep - though this is quickly overshadowed the rest of the Ryuvian vessels coming active in spite of their crews being long deceased, validating Chigara's suspicions that the ships can be manned and even solely operated by an A.I. system, reporting this in a half-panic while Icari panics and declares the graveyard haunted.
In the Novel, Chigara struggles to disable the power systems of an oncoming Ryuvian cruiser while Claude disables the targeting systems of another, helping the Sunrider to take down one in addition to crippling the other. Soon after, Asaga - still alive and relatively unharmed - emerges from the Ryuvian dreadnought with a trio of Ryuvian sniper-scout Ryders pursuing her. When asked about the enemy machines, Asaga confusedly remarks that there was only one pilot, with Chigara denoting that two of the pursuing Ryuvian Ryders are solid-light holographic projections that Asaga confirms are just as deadly as the real thing, Icari disbelievingly stating that even two-thousand years later the Ryuvian's technology made them potent enemies. Chigara and Claude continue to focus on hampering the Ryuvian cruisers alongside the Sunrider while Asaga and Icari focus on the snipers - only to realize after eliminating the opposing forces that all three Ryders were decoys, the real one already targeting Chigara's Liberty.
Chigara's machine - left stricken without power from using it's cyberwarefare suite on the Ryuvian cruisers - is incapable of evading the attack, but is saved when Asaga miraculously manages to deflect the oncoming shot against her anit-Ryder blade into one of the ruined husks nearby, much to Chigara's shock due to the statistical impossibilities of what had happened and only able to numbly comment on Asaga's actions in addition to confirming her own survival. The Ryuvian Ryder, after witnessing Asaga's display, willingly stands down as a result and is towed back to the Sunrider by the Black Jack, though Chigara soon horrifically realizes that the ancient dreadnought is attempting to power up it's primary weapon - which in turn causes the mammoth vessel's aged core to descend into instability, threatening to rupture in an immense blast that will wipe out the graveyard and them along with it. This prompts the Ryders to rush back to the Sunrider's docking bay, returning just in time for the ship to warp out of the system right as the dreadnought's reactor detonates.
Hidden No More
After escaping the destruction of the starship graveyard - and, for Chigara, the saddening loss of an entire armada's worth of lost technology - the crew reconvenes in the Sunrider's hangar bay to question their new arrival, who shockingly introduces herself as Princess Sola vi Ryuvia. Chigara, disbelievingly commenting Sola has been historically recorded as dead for over two-thousand years, proclaims her identity impossible, but Kayto brings up that they found Sola in stasis, suggesting Sola is who she claims to be and has been asleep for the past two millennia. After informing the despondent Sola that Ryuvia is no longer the galaxy-spanning superpower of it's heyday, Sola explains she'd attacked due to mistaking them as part of a Ryuvian insurrectionist faction from her time, then stuns them by revealing she actually has the Crown Jewel they came to the system for aboard her Ryder, calling it the "Talbur". Due to the presence of Asaga - the current era's Crown Princess - being aboard, the device begins glowing once Sola presents it in spite of Sola explaining it will never react for her, effectively signaling to Chigara and Asaga that it's time for the truth to come out.
However, before anything can be said to explain the Talbur's activation or be done to try and cover up the truth, the Sunrider's proximity sensors detect multiple vessels - a PACT fleet totaling at least sixty ships in what seems to be a planned ambush - commanded by Veniczar Cullen, who promptly opens fire on the vessel as revenge for his prior humiliation at Kayto's hands, though not before revealing the purpose behind why King Jaylor wanted the Talbur; to locate his runaway daughter and Arcadius's betrothed. In the Novelization, Asaga takes the Talbur from Sola and breaks away from the rest of the group as the Sunrider is crippled by Cullen's fleet, leaving Chigara stricken as she realizes what the runaway Princess is intending to do; turn herself over in the hopes it will convince Cullen to spare the Sunrider. Calling to Asaga desperately from a catwalk across the hangar bay, Chigara breaks down in tears when Asaga tells the engineer to take care of herself in Asaga's absence, the princess promising to never forget the times they had shared together before telling a dumbstruck Icari she is now the Sunrider's CAG and heads for the escape pods. Fortunately for the Sunrider, Cullen is appeased enough by Asaga's surrender spare the ship - even though her leverage vanishes when apprehended -leaving the damaged vessel adrift in space.
Engineering the Rescue
Under Kayto's direction, Chigara works to have the ship brought to working order as soon as possible with the intent to rescue Asaga. Additionally, after Chigara performs a rudimentary examination of Sola's Ryder, the Seraphim, she makes the tantalizing discovery that it's targeting systems and navigational computer can be used to upgrade the Sunrider's own navicomputers. Kayto, after taking this into account, entrusts Chigara with another project that will play into their mission; adapting the Sunrider's warp-capabilities to make pin-point jumps so as to completely bypass the PACT fleet over Ryuvia. Between these alterations and the repairs across the vessel, Chigara works tirelessly to get the ship to combat-readiness - illustrated in the Novel by her normally well-kept appearance giving way to heavy bags under her eyes, frayed hair that even her hairband alone isn't capable of maintaining and grease smears across much of her face.
Thirty-eight hours after Asaga's abduction, the vessel is nearly in working order and the upgrades to the warp core's capabilities are in effect, though at the cost of nearly exhausting Chigara and the crew as well as depleting the vessel's stock of repair drones. Chigara is called up to debrief Ava and Kayto on the Sunrider's increased warp-jump accuracy - represented in the Novelization as attending via holographic avatar as she is still busy in engineering, as well as wistfully denoting she had more time to study the Seraphim as she considers it an amazing feat of engineering even with it's decayed state and comparatively light role as a scout unit - and informs the pair that she has succeeded in reverse engineering the Seraphim's targeting computer and applying the upgrades to the Sunrider.
Chigara then proudly reports that the Sunrider is now capable of making pinpoint FTL jumps with an exit area of just eight centimeters from the target point at speed control of 00.1 meters-per-second - or in laymen's terms that, if there was a watermelon floating in space, the Sunrider would be capable of jumping in with such accuracy as for the melon to land snugly into a bowl in the mess hall. This is described in the Novel as being a feat that arguably represents the greatest advancement in warp-drive technology in the past hundred years, much to Kayto and Ava's shared amazement, with Kayto additionally telling Chigara to get some much-needed rest as a reward for the feat; something that Chigara initially protests as she doesn't wish to leave the Sunrider's repairs half-completed, but soon shyly and gratefully accepts when Kayto tells her it is a direct order.
However, Chigara asks Kayto to meet her in the laboratory - explained in the Novel as because she is unable to rest between having Asaga's last message on hand and lingering guilt over keeping Asaga's identity a secret, also marking the first time Chigara directly invites Kayto to talk with her of her own volition. Chigara apologizes to Kayto for the deception on her part, stating she understands he must have been surprised as she was too the first time she met Asaga, though she pleads with him to understand why Asaga did what she did, displaying open disgust at the idea of Asaga being married to a dictator like Arcadius. Kayto, sympathetic, replies that Arcadius is only using the marriage as shallow justification to smooth over what is basically an occupation at gunpoint, prompting Chigara to disgustedly remark on how Arcadius only sees her as a prize to be owned and a tool for conquest, surprising Kayto by displaying a rare, genuine anger at how Asaga's father could possibly have given his own daughter to such a person. Kayto, to Chigara's gratitude, assures her that they will rescue Asaga before Arcadius can harm her.
When asked by Kayto how she befriended Ryuvian Royalty, Chigara recounts her first meeting and subsequent experiences with Asaga - namely that Asaga assumed some men Chigara asked for help were harassing her, causing fight by insulting them repeatedly and forcing Chigara to incapacitate them with a stunner - which Kayto bemusedly denotes is a fair bit different from Asaga's own recounting before reacting with shock as Chigara explains her hair-ribbon's many functions, including a taser. After diffusing Kayto's nervousness about her ribbon, Chigara tells him she always admired Asaga's desire to be her own person instead of what others wanted her to be, explaining the details behind Asaga's arranged marriage after her mother died and about leaving with Asaga to try and protect her, leading to their becoming freelancers. Kayto avises Chigara to prepare herself for their toughest mission yet - and in the Novel, recounts how Chigara entrusted herself to his care, stating that this same camaraderie is why they won't leave Asaga to PACT, as she would do the same if it were them being married off to a Veniczar. Chigara reaffirms her determination to save her friend and, as Kayto makes to leave, finally hands him the memory crystal Asaga had given her, only just now able to with the break in her workload. She then thanks him for speaking with her, feeling reassured they can succeed and then, in the Novel, finally leaves to rest up for the mission.
Rescuing Old Friends, Meeting New Allies
The following morning, the Sunrider engages in Operation Wedding Crash, using Chigara's modifications to it's navicomputer to warp in directly above the Star Palace, with Kayto and Ava personally leading a strike team to rescue Asaga from the wedding - though the mission is sadly not in time to save Asaga's father, who is murdered by Arcadius' command the moment the dictator no longer needed him. Asaga is initially shocked that the Sunrider crew risked their lives for her even after she gave herself up to protect them, but after Kayto reassures her that he would never have abandoned her, Asaga quickly reclaims her position as CAG of the Sunrider's Ryder wing and sorties with the rest of the pilots, pushing to slingshot around Ryuvia's moon and escape the system.
In the Novel, Chigara works to - if not tentatively - coordinate with Claude in conducting cyberwarefare attacks on the PACT battleships blockading the path. She also conducts field-repairs on the Seraphim after it sustains damage from a volley of missiles, impressing Sola with how Chigara is able to adequately manage and repair the advanced machine's systems after having only had a few hours to study and familiarize herself with it. The Phoenix is similarly damaged my missile bombardment and Chigara is forced to quickly fix it's ruptured armor after Icari's cockpit integrity is compromised, additionally linking several of her drones to the Phoenix's wing-struts and slaving them to Icari's controls to replace it's damaged or destroyed thrusters. Finally, Chigara uses the Liberty's counterintelligence suite to disable the PACT Battleships and allow the Sunrider to sink them, breaking the blockade's lines and opening the way for their escape. However, the Ryders are only just able to get aboard before the Legion encroaches from behind the moon, the Sunrider itself barely avoiding the attack from it's main cannon as it warps out.
Afterwords, as the Sunrider makes for Far Port in the wake of PACT's conquest of Ryuvia, the majority of the crew celebrates Asaga's rescue and safe return - though Chigara seems to distance herself from some of the more rowdy aspects of it after Claude privately comments to her suggestively about Kayto, causing the engineer to blush deeply and deny the opinion. After excusing herself from the festivities, she returns to her preferred pastime of working in the Sunrider's engineering and R&D sections - and at some point also takes the liberty of setting up miniaturized security cameras around the Engineering Section and Research Labs so that she can know when visitors are coming and will no longer be caught off guard by their arrival.
When Kayto later pays her a visit later on to check on her status, Chigara thanks him for having saved her best friend while Kayto reaffirms it is what anyone in the crew would do for each-other. Chigara in turn states that this is why she's happy Kayto is their Captain, asking if there is anything else he needs of her and to stop by whenever he does. Before leaving, Kayto notes that Chigara is no longer startled by his visits and is subsequently surprised when she explains her new surveillance system, causing her to worry the cameras may not be allowed. Kayto reassures Chigara that she won't be in any trouble for it, though he advises she not let Ava find out all the same - prompting Chigara to muse about applying a recently-developed camouflage composite on them as Kayto takes his leave.
Upon reaching Far Port, the Sunrider is contacted by an old client - Admiral Grey - and asked to head up the Alliance's defense of the planet in the wake of their finally declaring open war on PACT for the fall of Ryuvia. To this end, he sends the ship a new crewmember to serve as an official Alliance liaison - First Lieutenant Kryska Stares - along with a Heavy Artillery-Type Ryder to fill out the Sunrider's compliment. However, after the incidents with Icari and Claude, Ava decides to have Chigara investigate Kryska's background, resulting in the Diode survivor learning that the Lieutenant's transcripts are falsified, pointing to Kryska being a spy for the Admiral. After informing Ava of this, Chigara joins Asaga in the mess hall for their final meal before the opening battle against PACT, nervous about the possible outcome.
Echoes of the Past
When Kayto later enters the mess hall, Asaga waves him over to sit with them and states that she and Chigara are ready for the war to come, though Chigara admits that she is having trouble eating due to anxiety. Asaga encourages Chigara to try eating as much as she can to have energy for the long battle ahead of them, though Chigara soon after admits that the problem runs deeper as she hasn't slept well since the raid on Ryuvia, worriedly explaining that she was so terrified seeing Arcadius - even in hologram form - that she keeps hearing his voice in her head. Asaga tries to encourage Chigara that Arcadius is simply another person and nothing to truly fear, but Chigara isn't comforted and absentmindedly questions who the tyrant really is under the identity of the mask he wears. Asaga recounts the known history - that Arcadius was a former slave who led a revolt against the New Empire and founded the Compact Revolution, which later became PACT - though she admits some of her father's advisors suspected the Arcadius they all were familiar with wasn't in fact the same man who originally founded the faction.
Chigara asks aloud why Arcadius wears a mask, with Kayto providing several theories - that he is scared to show himself in person and it lets him use body-doubles, that it creates a symbol of fear to turn Arcadius into an icon instead of just a mortal person, or that it's a mock form of 'immortality' or 'reincarnation' since somebody can take up Arcadius' mask if he ever dies and continue leading PACT without anyone being the wiser. At the mention of the latter, Asaga admits that such a system of symbolic immortality would be more practical then what the old Ryuvian Emperors tries, noting that they poured vast amounts of their wealth into trying to cheat death - and joking that the most they ever did was make breakthroughs in anti-aging creams. Kayto - or Asaga in the Novel - suggest that Ava might be interested in the cream, though Asaga admits none probably exists anymore, though in the Novel she teases that Sola's Seraphim may have some in it's storage compartment. Putting jokes aside, Asaga states that she wants to be the one that tears off Arcadius' mask - but in the Novel, the conversation is cut short when Ava calls Kayto away by comms over a fight between Icari and Kryska in the hangar, prompting Asaga and Chigara to bolt out of fear that Ava overheard their joking about her and the anti-aging cream.
Later on, Chigara - still plagued by anxiety and now nightmares about Arcadius and Diode - attempts to calibrate the Liberty's systems as much as she can in preparation for the battle in an attempt to sooth her nerves, though is startled when Kayto makes a stop-off in the hangar bay to do a final check himself for much the same reasons. Kayto comments on her tired appearance - described in the Novel as being as sullen-looking as she was during the preparation for Operation Wedding Crash, having been awake for hours on end - and Chigara confesses she fears she will be a burden in the upcoming battle, stating that she can't sleep because she's still hearing Arcadius 'calling' to her, fearfully admitting she finds his voice almost hypnotic. Kayto tries to reassure her that it's merely stress, but Chigara quips back that even then she must sound crazy and asks that he forget the matter - however, when pressed, she then admits that she's recently been thinking of Diode's destruction ever since Ryvuia fell, likely because of Asaga having lost her home just like Chigara lost hers. Asking if she wishes to talk about it in private, Kayto invites Chigara to his quarters for tea, which she accepts in spite of a slight hesitancy - likely because it marks the first time she has been to his cabin outside of official reports.
Upon entering Kayto's quarters, Chigara is offered her choice of several Ceran tea blends and asked to make herself comfortable, the Captain bemusedly admitting he never expected his quarters to be as well-furnished as they are and chalking it up to it being a benefit of the Sunrider being an advanced prototype. After getting comfortable with a cup of tea apiece, Kayto questions Chigara about the details of the Diode Catastrophe that weren't public knowledge - one of these being the fact that no official report ever spoke of even sole survivors like Chigara. Chigara seems to attribute it to her not having been one of the notable scientists on the colony, recounting that the world's unique status of orbiting a binary star system where one sun had collapsed into a black hole was what made it so attractive to researchers, the planet itself being strange but holding no real value aside from being the staging point from which to observe the singularity.
Chigara then touches upon her past, including her birth on the station and her father having been head of the ill-fated Paradox Project; an attempt to create an artificial singularity to use in engineering time-travel, which was a feat not even the Ryuvians had achieved. While Kayto can express skepticism or support for the idea, Chigara states that technology is only as good or bad as the person who uses it and is little more then a benign tool otherwise, citing that the Paradox Project had just as much potential to bring prosperity to humankind as it did destruction. However, she also ultimately admits it to be a moot point as something went wrong during the testing as an artificial singularity was created over the planet itself - one that went out of control and consumed both the research station and a large swath of Diode itself, resulting in the deaths of everyone except Chigara who, as far as she knew, was the only one to make it to an escape pod.
Kayto expresses his condolences, with Chigara explaining that the event practically scarred her but that she'd had years to come to terms - however, she admits that if there is anything that prevents her from truly moving on, it's the fact that she has no closure about how exactly the tragedy happened. Recounting her many attempts since then to figure out what went wrong when there were multiple safeguards and incident-free test runs before that point, she cites that there was no feasible way a singularity that size and strength should have materialized as the calculations were all flawless. While reluctant to do so, Chigara admits to Kayto, upon prompting from him, that she fears the Diode Catastrophe was the result of sabotage, though she cannot think of a reason why - yet she has no other explanation for how the Paradox Project backfired so spectacularly.
Regardless of whether Kayto dismisses it as bad luck or advocates that incidents like that don't happen without proper cause, Chigara promises she doesn't intend to let her memories of the past hinder her abilities in the present. She then confesses that her never wanting to see people she cares about die the way her family did is her reason for fighting to protect Asaga - a vow she's since extended to the Sunrider itself. Kayto tenderly returns the sentiment by promising that they all will do the best they can to keep from losing those they care about. Affirming that she will be counting on him, Chigara thanks Kayto for the tea - which he absentmindedly remarks was a gift from his sister - and that she is glad he is their Captain, taking her leave after thanking him for having her and hesitantly, yet happily, affirming his request to visit him for tea again if she ever wants to in the future.
Romance and Tension
Shortly afterword though, Chigara is mortified to learn Asaga, as a direct consequence of Chigara letting her investigation of Kryska slip out, has carried out her own clumsy inquiry that has spread rumors and feelings of distrust for the Alliance Liaison by telling other crew-members about "the Alliance spy". Asaga soon after drags Chigara into an impromptu observation of Kryska by sneaking onto the Sunrider's C.I.C., though the pair are soon discovered by Kayto and Chigara abashedly explains her role in inadvertently causing Asaga's antics. Kayto exasperatedly points out that their 'reconnaissance' is plaintively obvious to the entirety of the bridge crew and that Ava, who has been glaring at the Ryder pilots the whole time, will likely be lecturing them, or at least Asaga, on the breach of protocol. Asaga, panicking at having been caught, makes her excuses to Kayto about returning to the hanger and takes off, while Chigara stays behind long enough to apologize to Kayto for the mishap.
Later on in the Research Section, Chigara - the last one in the area as typical for her - reviews the security system and ends up searching specifically for images of Kayto. In the Novelization, she recalls how she originally reviewed it to familiarize herself with the ship layout and security systems, but it has since then become habit purely because she realized she enjoys seeing Kayto - even though she shamefully admits to herself that her actions could be considered stalking. However, she is so preoccupied that she fails to notice Claude enter the Lab and sneak up on her, left mortified when Claude reveals she knows Chigara reviews the security footage daily and who she looks for, even going as far as to point out which part of the recording Kayto is visible on. Chigara quickly calms down though afterword, even coming to somewhat enjoy Claude's presence in this instance - if for no other reason then that the faux-doctor doesn't find her budding attraction to Kayto abnormal. In the Novel, she also admits to herself while watching Claude all but drool over the images that she is somewhat envious of the pinkette's bold and outgoing nature.
However, the subsequent arrival of Icari humiliates Chigara as the mercenary, curious as to what the pair are doing in the empty lab, joins in - highlighted in the Novel by Icari all but collapsing in uproarious laughter to the point of tears at seeing Claude and Chigara both fawning over images of Kayto. Icari then rhetorically asks what Chigara finds so attractive about Kayto, with Chigara admitting it is not just because he always puts the crew first but because he is somehow always alone in spite of having so many people that care about him, seemingly comparing him to herself in how he watched his past life be destroyed before his eyes. In the Novel, she likens her feelings to being that she wants to try and help heal the void in him left by his family's death, which he keeps hidden from everyone else. Claude and Icari however both regard Chigara's idea of love as being like an innocent maiden and tease her about taking her to a club to 'fix' this, much to the engineer's embarrassment - as well as anxiety as Claude suggests Chigara move quickly lest the faux-doctor beat her to the chase.
Thankfully, the mortifying discussion is distracted from when Icari notices something on the security footage - unfortunately, it proves to be a very serious distraction as it shows Kryska attempting to tamper with one of the Sunrider's engineering consoles. Chasing after a now-alerted Icari, Chigara heads to the Hangar Bay after her so as to see for herself exactly what Kryska was doing. Kayto and Ava are soon called down to the scene as well by Icari, who by this point is restraining Kryska - at gunpoint in the Novel - while Chigara investigates the Lieutenant's actions, discovering that the latter was attempting to install a data-interface module to hack into and download all of the Sunrider's maintenance history. She tentatively reports this to Kayto, resulting in Icari demanding Kryska be detained - but before anything can be done, the PACT invasion fleet finally arrives at Far Port, forcing Kayto to order the matter shelved in the interest of dealing with - and living through - the more pressing threat.
Chigara soon after readies for deployment with the rest of the Sunrider's pilots against Veniczar Cullen's fleet, in spite of being vastly outnumbered by the five invading forces and overshadowed by the Legion holding on standby to reinforce. In order to counter this, Kayto proposes a bold plan to take his forces forward and overshoot Cullen's advancing forward fleets to engage his core vessels at close range, destroying the PACT force's chain of command and rendering them disarrayed and paralyzed in the system to buy time for Alliance reinforcement. Giving a rallying speech to the crews and the rest of the ships, Chigara mentally encourages Kayto to do his best for everyone just as he always has right before they warp out to intercept the PACT fleet.
In the Novelization, Chigara deploys under Asaga's direction and is ordered to hold position as cyberwarfare support along with Claude and Sola for distance support, while Asaga herself forms a vanguard formation alongside Kryska for defense and artillery and Icari for flanking. Between the Seraphim downing light frigates and the Phoenix and Paladin assaulting a carrier detachment, the Liberty and Bianca's countermeasure systems force them to leave the majority of their defense to the Sunrider while Asaga pushes ahead. However, the Alliance forces are promptly thrown into chaos when the Legion abruptly opens fire, cutting through multiple ships - including several of PACT's own vessels - in order to try and give Cullen's forces an opening, his flagship managing to close the distance to the Sunrider itself to try and sink the vessel before it can destroy his.
Much to Chigara's concern, Asaga defiantly pushes ahead to engage Cullen's ship herself, leaving her terror-stricken when the self-styled hero undoes the safety limiters on her weapons - and, shockingly, is able to control the unrestrained energy output as she abruptly undergoes an 'Awakening' of her inherent Ryuvian bloodline abilities - to destroy Cullen's flagship, sending PACT's forces into chaos. In the Novel, Chigara is forced to deploy her drones in a panic to sever the Black Jack's laser cannons before they overload from the looping feedback and carry them away before they meltdown. Chigara, on Kayto's orders, then directs her drones toward overriding the Black Jack's systems as the machine starts to go tows the crippled Black Jack back to the Sunrider as the Ryder's operating systems backfire from the unexpected first connection between it and Asaga.
Upon returning to the Sunrider's hangar in the Novel, Chigara fights back panic as she uses an exterior manual override to open the Black Jack's cockpit and check on Asaga's physical condition, finding to her relief that the latter has only been left in a lethargic and disoriented state from her "Awakening." She then however starts to worry that Asaga's mind have been affected by the event, but a recently-returned Sola assures Chigara that the first time experiencing an "Awakening" is the most exhausting and that Asaga only needs to rest. Thankful that Asaga's state isn't life-threatening, Chigara then expresses amazement at how anyone could manipulate a Ryder the way Asaga did, awestruck as Sola details the generational nanomachines that allow an interface between a pilot's nervous systems and the Ryder's control systems that allows actions that are normally impossible, and that Asaga must have inherited them from her mother. After thinking for a moment, Chigara then expresses sympathy and concern for Asaga at the immense strain the use of such an interface must have caused on her friend - before noticing that Sola has passed out alongside Asaga from having used her own abilities in the battle. Anxiously wondering if she should bother to move the pair yet smiling at their having returned safely, Chigara opts to simply watch over them until further notice.
When Kayto and Ava descend to the hangar bay to check on and congratulate the Ryder pilots, Chigara happily - if not redundantly - lets Kayto know she returned safely, alongside all the others as they celebrate their victory in the first battle of what has now become the Alliance-PACT War.
Mask of Arcadius
Chigara returns as a companion character in Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius, where her relationship with Kayto is largely expanded upon as she somewhat awkwardly tries to expand her ties with him, her original infatuation starting to become potential love - and her friendship with Asaga beginning to turn distant.
Shore Leave - A Short Reprieve
Following the Battle of Far Port, the Sunrider crew is given it's first official shore leave since departing from Cera, allowing the pilots a brief chance to relax at the Lydia Resort Station after weeks of endless fighting against PACT - something that likely comes as an unexpected situation for Chigara as she actually tended to find her work relaxing in and of itself when not on the battlefield. However, Chigara proves more capable in enjoying non-work-related events then Ava does, the latter's sanity seeming to degrade the longer she stays off-duty - and the engineer is also seemingly the only member of the crew who is openly concerned about Ava's declining state. When the group heads to the beach, Chigara, having decided to wear a skirted, two-piece yellow swimsuit with white polka-dots and a small bow at the chest, tends to keep a close eye on Asaga - likely due to the latter's rambunctious nature as well as possible lingering concern over Asaga's long-term condition following her first "Awakening".
When Asaga rather brazenly approaches an unstable Ava on the beach and addresses her informally, Chigara anxiously - and vainly - tries to avoid Asaga from triggering a complete breakdown in Ava by addressing the latter by her rank, though Asaga doesn't seem to catch on and repeats Kayto's orders of 'no ranks when off-duty.' Chigara, realizing the futility of the situation, then ends up catching sight of the scantily-clad Claude emphasizing her overly-curvaceous body and becomes depressed at the sharp contrast between her own measurements and the faux-doctor's, with Claude teasing Chigara on needing to "catch up" with her. Chigara tries and assure herself that she doesn't need to be as buxom as Claude to be attractive - as well as tell herself that Kayto wouldn't be interested in someone simply because of their body - and her mutterings inadvertently help compound Ava's failing state until the Ceran Commander runs away screaming from an anxiety attack.
Likely deciding Ava needed time to calm down, Chigara takes to listening as Kryska questions whether or not life on a mixed-sex crew is difficult compared to the gender-segregated policy the Alliance uses, surprising Chigara as she never knew their ships were either all-male or all-female. Kryska remarks it was done to enforce discipline, though doesn't comment and only smiles when Claude wryly asks if it actually does so - prompting Asaga to change the topic possibly out of wanting to spare herself and Chigara the awkward conversation and instead remarking about the Lydia station itself. Eventually though, Ava's absence - noted by Icari in the original and Chigara in the Novel - begins to cause concern for the Engineer, as well as the lack of worry among the rest of the crew, though Kayto's own arrival to the beach soon offsets it. In the Novel, Chigara almost comically panics at the idea of seeing Kayto shirtless - likely remembering the last time she saw him like this was during the lewd incident marking Claude's 'first day on the job' with the crew - and covers her eyes, though Claude encourages her to look. However, Chigara is soon left depressed by the shocking sight of Ava having returned in beachwear of her own, disparagingly noting that she's fallen behind even further in a contest of sexual appeal among the crew.
Chigara then takes to helping prepare for the cook-out, where Kayto finds her setting up the grill and comments on having not used one in years. In the Novel, he asks Chigara if anything can match proper hand-made cooking, to which Chigara abashedly explains that she may be close, wanting to set up a working food-replicator for the Sunrider's mess hall in the absence of the needed supplies for her baking hobby. She assures an uncertain Kayto that, while the device is still in the testing phase, she managed to successfully replicate something that at least imitates Pan Du Chocolat - the biggest breakthrough in food-replication since the Ryuvian Empire collapsed - and that if she can perfect the technology, she could open up a galaxy-wide chain of bakeries and even have pastries made right at people's homes. Kayto bemusedly notes Chigara is still pining for a simple life as a baker, with Chigara wistfully remarking that, even though her skills allow for so much more, she'd never wanted fame or excitement or anything else besides owning a bakery in a quiet neighborhood and making her customers - family families - happy. Chigara then expresses the only other thing she'd ever want to be children of her own - though she becomes so engrossed in her fantasizing that she speaks as though Kayto would be the father, becoming thoroughly mortified when it dawns on her what she'd said and begging Kayto to forget it, trying to justify her having let her imagination run wild before belatedly realizing she'd just confessed to life with Kayto being a desired fantasy. Kayto however remarks he knows what Chigara meant, prompting the embarrassed engineer to bury herself back in her work to escape her shame.
After Ava and Kayto start the beachside grill, Chigara ends up chased down by Claude about the crew's R&R being the perfect, and only, chance to confess her feelings to Kayto before they return to duty, mortifying Chigara as she'd wanted this kept secret. She is further horrified when Claude suggests taking Kayto for herself if Chigara won't, dragging Icari and Asaga into it with the commotion as the former likens Chigara and Claude to schoolgirls fighting over a crush and advises Chigara simply get it over with. Chigara however worriedly asks about if Kayto doesn't return her feelings, disagreeing with Icari's belief that knowing either way would be better as she doesn't believe she could simply move on from what is quite possibly her first love. Exasperated, Icari asks Asaga for support - unaware of Asaga's own feelings - as she advocates that Chigara has been through more harrowing situations in combat then a confession and that, at any point in their future battles, a single stray shot could kill one or both of them and that Kayto might never know anyone cared about him the way Chigara did. Asaga - if not reluctantly - recounts that Chigara had helped her more times then she can count and, as her best friend, she believes Chigara should at least take the chance. Claude - unhelpfully -tries to encourage Chigara to try her best if she wants to keep Claude from stealing Kayto, reminding her that she'd seen him naked before and touched his privates, causing Chigara to suffer a panic attack and faint and Asaga to splash her friend with water to wake her back up - though Chigara does at last affirm she will try to confess before Shore Leave ends. Icari then pulls Claude away - after incapacitating her with a swift kick to cut off any more lewd comments - to plan out how to get Kayto alone while Chigara nervously watches.
Afterwords, the group retires to their cabin - though only after Kayto returns from the beachside with an uncharacteristically-relaxed Sola, prompting a confused and slightly-panicked Chigara to ask what she had missed when Claude cryptically comments on there being a new contender for Kayto's feelings. However, Sola opts to isolate herself from the group entirely, detailed in the Novel as having left for the rooftop to stargaze while the rest of the pilots engage in a game of strip-poker at Claude's suggestion. Likewise, Icari and Claude soon enact their own plans as they offer Ava - abandoned by Kayto to the chaos - abundant alcohol to drown out her misery, resulting in the Commander becoming severely inebriated and sordidly ranting at length about Kayto's string of infatuations in high school, likely to Chigara's anxious surprise. This in turn gives Chigara her chance to speak with Kayto alone, which - after a moment of hesitation and some wine-induced encouragement from Claude - she does so.
Chigara soon finds Kayto outside on the cabin deck, anxiously greeting him as he questions whether the rest of the Ryder pilots were too rowdy for her - something she regards as partially true, unaware the after-mentioned crew are spying on them from the bushes, Icari and Claude having stolen her comm badge and jammed communications to prevent interruptions. However, now that she is finally in a position to tell Kayto how she feels, Chigara finds herself too anxious to know what to say, leaving the two in an awkward silence until Kayto tries to break the ice by commenting they couldn't have come as far as they did without their 'chief'. Chigara however, becoming saddened at how even off-duty Kayto cannot be causal, asks that he call her by her name, which Kayto bemusedly agrees to - though once again Chigara can think of no follow-up for this. In the end, she does not need to though as her nervousness combines with a weak tolerance to the alcohol she drank earlier to cause a fit of dizziness, with Kayto only just noting Chigara going pale before the latter becomes giddy from the wine hitting her all at once.
In a scene she would normally find mortifying, Chigara meekly asks Kayto to 'save her' and ends up collapsing into his arms as he worriedly stops her from falling onto the deck, her uniform falling open to show her swimsuit. In the Novel, Chigara is illustrated as having become far more bold by kicking off her shoes, throwing her arms around Kayto's collar and pulling open his shirt when her hand catches on the collar. However, Kayto seems to easily recognize Chigara is intoxicated with drink and begins laughing at the comically-awkward situation, which Chigara joins in on in the Novel after belatedly realizing what she's done. However, she once again becomes sad when realizing this means Kayto isn't taking her now-obvious advances seriously, asking him why he remains distant to her. When Kayto expresses confusion, Chigara explains that she worries about him because she feels there is hollowness he keeps hidden from everyone else yet he never lets them get close enough to help, in spite of always helping everyone else with their burdens, and professes he let her be there to share his.
Silent for a moment, Kayto finally admits his insecurities in him, possibly the youngest captain in Cera's history for the rawest recruits on the newest ship, being the last hope for his world and fighting for the galaxy itself, citing that not just the Sunrider crew but billions of of other lives are his responsibility to think about. He also confesses to feeling responsible for the millions who died on Cera when he fled from the rout, and ends off by saying every decision and consequence, good or bad, rests on the Captain's shoulders and that nobody who isn't in that position should share the burden - worrying Chigara as she realizes not just what Kayto deals with but recognizes his explanation is effectively him turning her down. Visibly upset - and pulling away from him in the Novel - Chigara asks why he feels the need to be emotionally isolated yet pretend like nothing is wrong for everyone else's sake, professing that she understands how he must feel as why she wants to help him and sympathizes with the duress he must go through leading them into a battle and never knowing if one of them might die. However, Kayto cuts her off by stating he already knows this, finally causing Chigara to sadly realize that even if both of them want him to have that companionship that she can't force him to accept her, sadly remarking there isn't anything she can say to change Kayto's mind. Kayto, patting her head in a show of sibling-like affection, remarks that she and the crew are his shield - so long as they exist for him to defend, he will persevere. Disappointed yet understanding, Chigara bids Kayto good-night, unaware of the turmoil her actions have caused among the observing crew - especially Asaga.
Stranger then Fiction
The next morning, the crew returns to active duty and departs from the Lydia station for the front, with Chigara overseeing the final implementation of numerous upgrades to the Sunrider during the shore leave, including the installation of a 'war-map' of the Galaxy into holo-displays in Kayto's desk and a direct link to the ship's layout-map and status readouts, along with a virtual-combat simulator to use in testing different strategies before a mission. She also, upon recounting the alterations to Kayto, remarks upon procuring some memorabilia for his office - foremost being small-scale models of the Sunrider itself and Asaga's Black-Jack - and tries to make a joke about her "taking the Liberty" as a play off her Ryder's name, though the joke misses it's mark and Chigara abashedly makes her exit in the resulting awkward silence.
In the following weeks, the Sunrider would undertake multiple missions in the continuing war-front - including returns to Versta and Tydaria, assaulting PACT's supply depots and drydocked battleship squadrons at the former and clearing out the pirates, including former Ceran officers, who have taken up the displaced Cosette Cosmos' territory at the latter. But the most trying missing comes when the ship returns to Far Port for an investigation into the disappearances of several Alliance vessels near the world's moon - after warping in to find the wreckage of the missing ships, the Sunrider is abruptly assaulted by ancient automated Ryuvian cruisers. In the Novel, Chigara is portrayed as coordinating targeting information for the crew during the battle until three new contacts suddenly appear - a trio of automated Ryuvian assault Ryders that proceed to sheer off entire portions of the Sunrider's armor with their advanced weapons, outclassing any single Ryder's capabilities.
In the Novelization, Chigara works with Claude to bring down one of the three Ryuvian Ryders as it closes in on the Sunrider itself for a strafing run, using the Liberty and Bianca's shields to defend the vessel when it's own shields give out. Chigara then deploys all her drones and anchors them to the Ryder to try and slow it down so that Sunrider to get a targeting lock with it's missiles, though it ultimately proves insufficient to complete the task - in the end, it is by the intervention of Claude with her unorthodox gravity-manipulation projector that the machine is rendered stationary enough for the Sunrider to successfully attack and destroy itIn the Novel, Chigara notes the absence of any life-signs on the moon where the Ryders assumedly came from, amazed that the machines they faced where purely the result of 2,000 years of automation.
Upon exploring the Ryuvian facility on Far Port's moon, the Sunrider's crew discovers only one remaining, though exceedingly valuable, item intact - a small, ornate glowing cube that Sola identifies as a 'Wishwall'; a device that allows the user to 'phase' between alternate realities and alter their own timeline as a result, replacing an immediate future with another. Chigara likely expresses deep fascination with the concept of dimensional phasing as it achieves a limited version of the temporal displacement her parents had been researching at Diode, if not through an entirely different method. The decision on what to do with it is thereafter left to Kayto as use of it will not really affect their own timeline.
Moments of Terror
Shortly after this, Admiral Harold Grey summons the Sunrider to the recently-reclaimed world of Ongess, where the Alliance has set up a supply and refueling depot to use in pushing deeper into the Neutral Rim. After personally touring the vessel during it's resupply, he reveals that he wishes the crew to deal with an adversary Chigara and Asaga are very familiar with; Cosette Cosmos, who has embedded herself on Ongess - and who quickly makes her presence known by bombing an Alliance dry-dock during Grey's stay. After working to repair the minor damages sustained in the blast, Chigara finds herself ahead of schedule and decides to ask if she can visit Kayto for tea again, even baking some extra pastries for the occasion. He casually agrees - though she is once again off-put by his unconsciously calling her 'Chief', showing he still doesn't seem to see her in a romantic light even though he apologizes for the overly-formal greeting. Settling down - and being thanked for the pastries by Kayto in the Novel - Chigara voices concern at Kayto's lack of self-upkeep before regarding him silently as they have tea, where Kayto soon admits that he isn't sure whether or not he is qualified for war. He cites that he never expected to do more then border patrol and that the worst Cera ever faced where smugglers and pirates, not a galaxy-wide conflict - which goes far beyond anything he was ever trained for - and yet he has nobody to consult for advice since all of his peers and superiors are either dead or missing-in-action.
Kayto then laments on being unsure of his past choices and how making a command call in battle is so very different from a combat simulator because everything hinges on reading a situation and making a reflexive decision, only needing to make one mistake for everyone under his command to end up dead. Sympathetic, Chigara tries to assure Kayto that the fact the Sunrider came as far as it has is proof of his ability to command, reminding him that she and Asaga have watched him not only gather many allies but make them into a family. At this point, Kayto finally reveals the source of his anxiety is because he fears working with the Solar Alliance may be a mistake, though Chigara reaffirms her faith that Kayto will make the best possible choice. After being thanked for the support, Chigara realizes that her staff may need her and departs for engineering, though she abashedly admits she enjoys their time together and gets Kayto's approval to continue visiting him.
In the following days though, rumors soon after start to spread through the ship regarding Kayto's doubts in the Alliance, prompting Kryska to invite Kayto down to Ongess itself to try and prove the Alliance's intentions are benevolent - resulting in shipwide panic when the tour ends with Kayto and Kryska being ambushed and captured by Cosette's pirates. While terrified for Kayto's safety to the possible point of an emotional breakdown and physical illness, Chigara still follows Ava's orders on waiting for the Alliance to act, though the tension almost causes a mutiny when Icari breaks into the Sunrider's armory to try and take as many weapons as possible and stage a rescue on her own - briefly aided by Sola in the Novelization until the latter realized rash action wouldn't help Kayto. In the end, Ava's judgement proves correct and both Kayto and Kryska are rescued by Alliance marines - though Kayto ends up having suffered both mental and physical trauma, which Chigara learns about in and is left horrified by in the Novelization when she hacks the medical bay's records to find out Kayto's condition herself.
As soon as her work-shift ends, a visibly-distraught Chigara visits a surprised Kayto - uncaring of what other crew might think of her going to Kayto's quarters when he is supposed to be sleeping - and tearfully embraces him, recounting the fear she felt when hearing Kayto was imprisoned. Kayto attempts to sooth Chigara's concerns by noting he was only gone two days - and in the Novelization, this only upsets Chigara and prompts her to call Kayto out for acting as though nothing happened, revealing she sliced into the medical records and knows full well that he was severely beaten by Cosette's followers. Kayto tries to comfort the engineer by noting the Alliance easily treated his wounds, but Chigara adamantly demands Kayto never leave her alone in such a horrific way again, adding in the Novel that even she won't forgive him if he does so. Reassuring her that he is alright, Kayto opts to simply hold Chigara until she finishes crying, the Diode survivor eventually calming down enough to take her leave - ended off in the Novel as being ordered to take a shift off by Kayto to rest when Chigara notes her ill-kempt state, leaving to try and recover from the ordeal.
The Strains of War
Over the course of the next week - while the Sunrider is on alert due to PACT scouting forces routinely dropping in at the system's edge - a recovering Chigara begins to notice Asaga becoming more distant, the Ryuvian Royal having stopped playing her games and spending all her time either in combat simulations or working on her Ryder. Upon meeting Kayto in the mess hall one day and his expressing surprise at Asaga's absence, Chigara confesses her concerns at Asaga's uncharacteristic seriousness, noting that she's glad to see Asaga being dilligent worried that she may go too far and claiming everyone is already doing their best, so Asaga has no need to push herself so drastically. Kayto however states that Asaga might not be wrong and the upcoming battle with their newest adversary may be different, as the PACT forces have been uncharacteristically subtle. Chigara theorizes that it may have something to do with Cosette, to which Kayto agrees and expresses that PACT is likely playing a long-term strategy with feints until the Alliance slips up, then blitz the drydocks when the opening occurs - though Chigara displays surprising optimism in saying none of them will let PACT get that far.
Soon after, Asaga enters the mess hall - and expresses reluctance when Kayto invites Asaga to eat with them, the latter asking if Kayto is enjoying lunch with Chigara. Asaga proceeds to speak rapidly about the food provided by Alliance requisitions and about her chili with hot-sauce, rambling about a tolerance for spicy food being one of many steps to become a 'hero' - and in turn concerning Chigara further when the engineer realizes Asaga is trying to start and end a conversation as quickly as possible so that she can run off again. Kayto tries to offer for Asaga to stay, but the self-styled Sharr declines and claims she has more combat-simulations to run before leaving, prompting Chigara to repeat her concerns to Kayto that her friend may burn herself out - and expressing gratitude when Kayto promises to find out the cause of Asaga's change in behavior.
However, this is quickly derailed when PACT's forces, under the command of Veniczar B. Fontana, finally put their plan into motion alongside Cosette's amassed pirate and assault Ongess to retake both the planet and Asaga. In the Novel, the battle immediately starts out of their favor as Chigara surprisingly finds herself the victim of a network intrusion - the result of Fontana fielding a new cyberwarfare-centric support Ryder to disrupt communications and debilitate vessels and Ryders alike. Finding herself surprisingly trailing behind Claude in recovering from the remote sabotage, Chigara is left using the Liberty's own systems to circumvent the blanket of disruptive signals and establish coordination between Claude and Sola through to counteract the electronic invasions, then locate and destroy the Support Ryders to restore network integrity.
But in spite of the crew's best efforts, Fontana proceeds to utterly outwit Kayto by revealing the entire attack and even the past week of scouting runs were distractions for Cosette to amass her own forces, which launch from the assumedly-secured Ongessian habitats and bomb several drydocks with a salvo of missile attacks. Fontana declares it his victory, though the tide is quickly turned again when Admiral Grey intervenes and shocks Fontana by arming nuclear warheads at Ongess, effectively holding the planet and it's population hostage and threatening to obliterate everyone around it if Fontana does not pull out, finally breaking the young Veniczar's confidence as he forces an infuriated Cosette to retreat along with his own forces. In spite of severe losses, the Combined Fleet's damages are manageable and the Sunrider spared from destruction, though Kayto's confidence is badly shaken by the encounter.
Following the recovery and reconstruction from the Second Battle of Ongess, Chigara visits Kayto again for tea, her reason in the Novel being concern for Kayto's state following his first ever tactical loss. Conflicted, Kayto asks her if he failed the crew with how completely outmaneuvered he was by Fontana, denoting that Admiral Grey's actions were the only reason they weren't all either captured or executed and worrying about what will happen the next time he faces the Veniczar in battle. Chigara tries to assure Kayto that he will know what to expect from Fontana the next time they meet, but Kayto remains depressive and rhetorically asks what it is about war that makes good-natured men like Fontana and Grey capable of causing bloodshed and allowing atrocity when they feel the cause is substantial enough. As a result, Chigara likely realizes that Kayto is, to a degree, talking about himself as well - still blaming himself for "allowing" the slaughter of his people at Cera by retreating to come back later when he likely would have stood and fought otherwise.
Chigara reminds Kayto that making these choices so that nobody else has to is what separates followers from leaders and that he cares too much about the crew to make any choice he didn't feel was for the best. Claiming she will always consider Kayto her "Hero" for being brave enough to take that responsibility, Chigara disputes his belief he disappointed anyone and promises never to leave his side, with Kayto replying he intends to leave the military when the war is over to rebuild his world and even offering to help her set up her bakery if she wants, much to her happiness. In the Novelization, she falls asleep next to Kayto when he finally passes out from fatigue, worriedly bearing witness to his state after he awakens from a nightmare about his sister, ensuring he is alright as best she can before taking her leave before anyone else comes by, embarrassed by what other members of the crew might think if they saw her spending so much time in Kayto's quarters.
Haunted by the Past, Hunted by the Present
After deploying from Ongess to try and hunt down Cosette's whereabouts, the Sunrider deploys on a simple escort mission as a change of pace from their recent harrowing battles - only for it to become a near-disaster as an entire PACT fleet, including Assault Carriers and Battleships, chase them down after the vessel with the Mining Union's contact, Sophita Brooks, refusing to say why even with Asaga and Chigara's prior rapport with her. This prompts Asaga and Ava to angrily suggest refusing any further escort missions which Chigara anxiously agrees with due to the degree of trouble they have encountered, and the Sunrider returns to the war front where they will at least know to expect difficult engagements. In the end, this happens all too quickly as the Sunrider receives an unusual report about the Legion being sighted in the remote star-system of Helion, far from the front-lines of the war. Realizing the ship must be guarding something of importance to PACT and that Cosette may have fled there to recover from her losses, the Sunrider heads for the system and engages in silent running to try and discover what would warrant Arcadius' flagship be so far removed from the battlefield.
Upon entering the system though, the crew - and Chigara in particular - is left utterly shocked by what the Sunrider discovers a single massive ringed superstructure in orbit around the star and guarded by a massive PACT and pirate fleet, the object bearing a profile and design that is all-too-familiar to the resident Diode survivor. Upon being called to Kayto's quarters along with Ava to confirm the findings, a shaken Chigara disbelievingly confirms what the immense structure is; her parent's brainchild-project, the Paradox Core - vastly upscaled to be capable of obliterating entire stars instead of just planets, the militaristic faction having taken Diode's last work and twisted it into a weapon of horrifying proportions. Kayto denotes that the war will be all but lost unless they destroy it, whereas Ava demands to know how PACT could possibly have the knowledge to build the Paradox Core - a question that haunts Chigara as well, having long believed the knowledge to build it had been lost with her home and family in the Diode Catastrophe. Kayto requests Chigara share everything she knows about the Paradox Core with Ava and the crew to try and find a weakness in it's construction to exploit for their battle plans, noting they have all of twenty hours to formulate a strategy before Alliance reinforcements arrive to try and destroy it before the weapon is completed.
However, as the Sunrider moves to exit the system, they are suddenly set upon by PACT and pirate forces, including Cosette herself, who have somehow discovered them in spite of their silent running, forcing them into a running retreat. In the Novel, Kayto gambles on taking the Sunrider perilously close to Helion's corona to evade the oncoming forces, while Asaga proposes an equally-risky move of deploying the Ryders and anchoring them to the ship's hull on the side facing away from Helion so as to provide flak-support against missiles and pursuing enemy units, the Liberty and Bianca's shields protecting the group further. Chigara and the others manage to deploy safely - in spite of a mishap with Claude necessitating Kryska save her - but, in spite of their annulling missile attacks, a squadron of PACT Elites close the gap using the Sunrider's own wake to shield them from Helion's corona, resulting in Sola detaching her Ryder from the hull while "Awakened" and dispatching them at the cost of being rendered unconscious from the strain. Chigara, on Kayto's orders, overrides the Seraphim and forces it to re-anchor when Sola passes out and then returns to the hangars with the rest of the Ryders - just in time for the Legion to drop out of warp and cripple the Sunrider with it's opening shot.
Scrambling from her Ryder to the engineering deck, the Novel describes Chigara furiously struggling to restore the Sunrider's nav-link so as to warp out, though she doesn't do so in time to keep the Legion from striking the Sunrider again - and by the time she repairs the systems enough to engage an emergency warp, the Sunrider is left badly stricken with three dead and twenty-seven wounded, Kayto included. Chigara likely spends most of her time struggling to balance assessing the damages to the ship with trying to help in the medbay out of concern for Kayto's state, though she is likely warded off by Ava and Claude as Chigara's skills are best directed towards repairing the Sunrider. As soon as she has a free moment, Chigara comes to oversee Kayto's state when he is brought out of surgery and emergency treatment, staying at his side and sobbing into his prone body until eventually he reawakens. While initially overjoyed to see him alive and awake, Chigara is soon asked to leave Kayto be by Claude - on the back of Kayto's first reaction having been to ask about Ava, possibly disheartening Chigara at how in a near-death situation that the Commander was the first person Kayto thought of.
Reinforcing the Shield
After the Sunrider is repaired enough to be at base operational status, Chigara takes the time to make sure Kayto is alright - mentally as well as physically - and finds him in a shockingly-depressive state in his still-disarrayed and damaged quarters listening to a recording of his sister's final concert, the engineer unaware Kayto had just been in a dispute with Ava. Tentatively asking if he is alright, Kayto melancholically regards Chigara for a moment before inviting her in and moving to get the tea set - only to find it, the last gift from his sibling, utterly shattered by the impacts the Sunrider took in the battle. Chigara then watches in tense shock as Kayto, humiliated by his current state and his failures to defend his ship and planet, abruptly breaks down in front of her and begins crying, disparagingly proclaiming that the Legion has taken everything from him as the engineer worriedly tries to console him. Embracing Kayto as gently as she can, Chigara tells him she is still with him, causing Kayto to finally accept her long-ago offer to share his burdens and reveal the self-loathing he has carried since the beginning, feeling he abandoned his sister Maray to die when he ran from the Legion at Cera and that he is a failure and a coward for having not avenged her.
Letting Kayto vent his sorrows as he himself had let her do after Ongess, Chigara in the Novel realizes that it never really mattered whether or not Kayto saw her romantically the way Claude and Icari wanted him to - all she truly ever cared about was being there for Kayto the way he had been there for everyone else, wanting nothing more then to return that favor regardless of if it did or didn't become something more. With this assurance in mind, Chigara reminds Kayto that his decision to save his ship and crew was the best choice he could have made lest they all have died as well, reassuring him as he mourns his family and home that he still has people - herself and the Sunrider's crew - to be there for him. Proclaiming them to be as just as much family because of Kayto, Chigara assures him that he never needed to be ashamed to cry about his sister's death but that she will keep it secret nonetheless, as she knows how important it is to him that he be the stable center of the crew. Chigara - even though she knows that she can never replace his sister or anything else he lost - then promises to be there for him no matter what, while Kayto, still grieving, finally accepts her offer to let her behind the mask he wears for the crew and allows her to comfort him, even as he apologizes for burdening her with what he feels is his own weakness.
After Kayto has finally exhausted his emotions, Chigara returns to duty to prepare for the Sunrider's return to Helion, planning extensively with Ava about how to best defeat the Legion and destroy the Paradox Core, discovering a crippling structural flaw in the former - that because it's primary firing shaft leads directly to it's core, a Vanguard shot at close-range down the entrance to the main weapon would rupture the Legion's reactor, causing the ship to implode as it's own heavy armor traps the explosion inside it. After Kayto approves the plan, Chigara departs to ready her Ryder for deployment, entering the hangar with the other pilots right as Kayto gives a final speech regarding the crew's status as a family and that no matter what they lose, the one thing that cannot be taken from them is their hope for the future, leaving Chigara overjoyed to hear Kayto free of the despair he'd shown to her before as they soon depart for the most desperate battle in the war to date.
The Children of Diode
As the Sunrider warps in to deploy against the PACT fleets at Heliion, the Ryders quickly launch against the vanguard forces arrayed around the Legion itself as the Alliance vessels begin occupying the rest of the vast armada with grim results as the battle between dreadnoughts quickly amounts to a death toll in the thousands within seconds. The Sunrider's forces then partake in a grueling battle against the PACT defenders as they struggle to breach the Legion's defenses, eventually succeeding in wearing down the massive vessel's systems and armor enough to begin approaching it directly, culminating in a direct confrontation between the Sunrider and the Legion as the rest of it's forces push ahead for the Paradox Core itself.
But as the Sunrider's forces approach the Paradox Core, their advance is cut off as Chigara's instruments detect a new arrival into the battlefield - and to her shock, it is an enemy she has been dreading ever since the fall of Ryuvia; Veniczar S. Arcadius himself, piloting a customized Ryder modeled off of the Ryvuan machines the pilots had encountered at Far Port. Upon greeting them, the Sunrider pilots are further stunned to learn that "Arcadius" is actually a group of individuals seemingly sharing a collective will - with Chigara in particular likely surprised by the irony that two of Kayto's theories about Arcadius having many doubles and being 'immortal' by way of his mask being donned by others. Operating an entire battalion of elite machines, Arcadius declares his victory an inevitability - only to be instead shocked as Asaga stands up in defiance of him and enters her "Awakening" once more, this time doing so perfectly as she proclaims herself the new Sharr of Ryuvia.
In short order, Asaga begins turning the tide single-handedly as her newfound abilities allow her to match Arcadius's Ryders, with the rest of the Sunrider's Ryder-Wing following her into battle, with Chigara straining to both keep up support by interfering with Arcadius' units and to help repair the damage to the critically-wounded, if not possibly outright mutilated, Sunrider. But even as he is finally beaten back and reduced to a single barely-operational unit, Arcadius refused to admit defeat - and makes the terrifying proclamation that he has already armed the Paradox Core for detonation, willing to sacrifice the entire armada defending him simply to wipe out the Sunrider, the Alliance forces and the last legacies of Diode and Ryuvia while Arcadius himself will "survive" through new bodies.
However, before Arcadius can make good on his promise, he is abruptly betrayed by Fontana, who, sickened by the callousness and bloodlust of his supposed leader, stages a swift coup and assumes leadership of PACT for himself as he has his forces disarm the Paradox Core and declares Arcadius as not only a traitor but an impostor who claimed the original's name. Now referring to the disgraced former Veniczar as "Prototype", Fontana promptly rips away Arcadius' mask - revealing a sight that causes Chigara to scream in horror as she witnesses a nightmare worse then any other she could imagine when looking at the unveiled dictator; her own face, marred in an insane arrogance as though looking in a twisted mirror. A horror that is only magnified as Fontana reveals that the "Prototypes" are a race of genetically-engineered "superhumans" that were not only a project of Diode but also it's destroyers, having rebelled against their creators, who by definition would have been the scientists that lived there - logically including Chigara's own parents - and had caused the Diode Catastrophe themselves.
Unveiling that the Prototypes have spread throughout the galaxy's infrastructure in order to manipulate and conquer humanity, Fontana declares PACT as independent from them and publicly executes "Arcadius" - leaving Chigara caught between shock, disbelief and a despair not unlike what Kayto endured a day before as her life is once again inverted in an instant. Only this time, it is a question of how much of what she knows was even real or not, left trying and failing to reconcile the horrifying possibility that not only is a large part of her past a fabrication but that she herself may not even be human as opposed to a mass-produced drone, manufactured to be a weapon - and bereft of hope for a future as anything else.
Chigara is confirmed to return as a companion character in Sunrider: Liberation Day, where the truth of her origins and the Diode Catastrophe will be revealed - as well as the outcomes of both her growing affections with Kayto as the latter trusts her more with his emotional vulnerabilities, and her unknowingly-fragmenting friendship with Asaga as she becomes more and more embittered and envious of her.
(WARNING: The events listed here are taken from the Liberation Day BETA, and are thus subject to change during production until the final product is released. Canonicity is not guaranteed as this may be only one of several paths the game may take - as of now, this is the only one known.)
As the battle over Helion descends further into utter chaos with the lynching of Arcadius, Chigara is left on the verge of an emotional breakdown in the cockpit of her Ryder as she descends into denial about the Prototypes and their connection to Diode - especially regarding their appearance being identical to her own - and half-deliriously repeats to herself over and over that she was the only survivor of Diode, attempting to convince herself that her fears are untrue. Kayto tries to have Chigara capture the surviving Prototype alive for questioning, but she is in no state to even acknowledge his words as the Prototype taunts Chigara over the communication frequencies, declaring itself and Chigara to be "sisters." Breaking down even further, Chigara begins screaming in the grip a full-fledged panic attack that necessitates Claude tow the Liberty and surviving Arcadius' Ryder back to the crippled Sunrider while the rest of the pilots proceed to fight off the remaining PACT forces - as well as Cosette's remaining loyalists as the pirate makes one last charge after refusing to retreat.
After the battle's end, the retreat of PACT and the beginning of the Sunrider's retrofits following the damages it sustained, Chigara is brought to the brig along with Claude so that she can compare the engineer's DNA with that of the captured "Prototype" L7NN, her assessment confirming Chigara's worst fears; the two have an identical genetic makeup on the level of being twin sisters, with the imprisoned Prototype showing clear signs of extreme genetic modification to her cellular structure that marks her as the product of artificial creation. Kayto asks about the supposed "sister", assuming that the Prototype - if actually a product of Diode as Fontana claimed it to be - was created by the scientists Chigara grew up with, possibly even with Chigara's or her parent's DNA as the template instead of the other way around, though Chigara replies she'd never even met an artificial human before and certainly never met one supposedly made to be her sister.
In questioning the Prototype - dubbed "Lynn" after Chigara's middle name - Chigara learns from Kayto's brief interrogation that it's possible for the Prototypes to be disconnected from each-other and act independently, possibly breeding hope in the engineer that, if she does turn out to be a Prototype, that she might not be abruptly taken over by their apparent hive-mind, or that her emotions or thoughts aren't in fact at risk of being manipulated. Claude in turn lightens Chigara's mood further by joking about the fact that the monstrous Veniczar everyone had feared was simply a group of petite girls all along, while Kayto remarks that "Lynn" won't be a threat so long as no other active Prototypes come near her. Kayto then tasks Chigara and Claude with overseeing the Prototype and learning whatever they can about her, both scientifically and medically.
However, after she has the chance to be alone with her thoughts, Chigara finds herself taking after Sola in stargazing from one of the observation decks where Kayto soon stumbles across her, though she is far too solemn to be badly surprised. At his urging, Chigara confesses to Kayto her distress regarding the Prototypes, having never known about the race of engineered "siblings" in all her time on Diode and that she'd long believed her life was normal - or at least as much as it could be given the circumstances - as the sole daughter of two loving parents, yet now she must contend with knowing she has hundreds of pseudo-sisters who are bent on galactic domination. She then states she cannot understand why her "siblings" want to dominate everyone so ruthlessly and assuring Kayto she doesn't share their desires, seeming distraught that individuals sharing her genealogy could be so power-hungry as she remarks that owning even just a single bakery for herself would be enough to satisfy her for life. Kayto assures her that he doesn't believe she is anything like the Prototypes as, after everything they have been through, he trusts that she would never betray the ship. Humbled at the level of trust Kayto has shown her, Chigara allows her fears to diminish for the time being as she decides to start baking a cake to take her mind off things, thanking Kayto for his confidence in her and promising to make him a special gift later on.
Shortly after this, the Sunrider crew bears witness as Admiral Grey, after deeming the Paradox Core too dangerous to leave be, orders the PACT superweapon destroyed so as to end the threat it poses to the galaxy at large, allowing a majority of the crew to breath easy - Chigara in particular, now that she has a relative measure of certainty that what she lived through at Diode will not be repeated anytime soon. This in turn improves her mood enough to the point that she quickly finishes her gift for Kayto - which, to his pleasant surprise, turns out to be the tea-set from his sister, which the engineer painstakingly reconstructed after gathering up the pieces. However, unbeknown to Chigara, she ends up walking in on Kayto right after he and Ava have finished an argument about needing to be diligent - though Kayto brushes Ava's complaints off in favor of thanking Chigara for having gone through all the trouble she did fixing his tea set. Incensed by Kayto's actions, Ava storms out of his quarters while Kayto asks Chigara stop by later after he has finished his work, obviously eager to test his reassembled tea set.
After her shift ends, Chigara visits Kayto's quarters later on, confessing she feels anxious about seeing him after-hours, prompting Kayto to joke that Chigara has already done more strenuous things as one of the ship's two longest-serving pilots. Having already boiled the water, Kayto promptly resumes his familiar practice of peacefully having tea with Chigara, confessing to feeling hopeful again as the war seems to be coming to a close at long last as they now have Arcadius beaten and are leading the charge back to Cera with the Alliance fleet at their side. Chigara expresses happiness that Kayto is no longer suffering as his burdens gradually lessen, asking if he has given thought to what he will do after the last battle is fought, though Kayto awkwardly admits that he still hasn't even thought that far ahead aside from the fact that he doesn't intend to stay in the military. After a moment of awkward hesitation, Chigara blurts out that she wants to stay by Kayto's side and help him rebuild on Cera, starting with her bakery as she claims that returning to Tydaria hardly seems a good choice for re-opening her practice as a full-on business - but that more then anything, her desire is to be with Kayto and help him mend both his world and his life, all but confessing that she loves him.
Kayto in turn, finally able to admit he's grown close to Chigara as well, allows Chigara and himself to kiss as she at last makes clear the extent of her feelings, though she catches herself as she nervously admits to an amazed Kayto that she has never been in a relationship before, much less kissed anyone. She then advises that they stop lest they get carried away, noting that Ava might disapprove if she caught them. Bidding Kayto good-night, Chigara leaves the Captain's quarters - only to be unknowingly spotted by Asaga on the way out, further deepening the growing rift between them as Asaga's jealousy continues to rise. Her becoming closer to Kayto also causes Chigara to unwittingly draw ire from Ava, as the latter not only suspects her of being a Prototype but of being a spy responsible for every instance where PACT outmaneuvered the Sunrider - and in turn causes Kayto to coldly disregard Ava's warnings, making the latter suspect Kayto of being emotionally compromised or, worse, that he is lashing out to spite Ava for having refused Kayto's confession right before the Second Battle of Helion. When Chigara is angrily brushed off by Ava - an uncharacteristic display given the Commander's typical controlled behavior - on the way to Kayto's quarters, the engineer belatedly begins to suspect Ava's misgivings about her, though Kayto tries to convince her otherwise.
However, Chigara's attempt to spend time with Kayto is interrupted as a sudden ion storm passes through the system, though the Captain tries to make light of the mood by joking about how the storms remind him of ghost stories he would hear from his peers and seniors in the Cera Space Force - which in turn only frightens Chigara more as a result of Kayto's teasing. This instead backfires as the Sunrider's proximity alert is triggered, nearly sending the already-paranoid Chigara into a panic as she half-mistakes it for an attack by vengeful phantoms like in Kayto's tales, though it instead turns out to be a different form of pestilence; PACT forces loyal to "Arcadius", having prioritized the Sunrider's destruction now that they have captured one of the Prototypes. Chigara is quickly ordered to prepare for launch as, due to the ion storm suspending it's retrofits and the interference crippling it's targeting systems, the Sunrider is practically defenseless save for it's Ryders while PACT has full combat functionality.
Kayto in turn entrusts Chigara with optimizing the Sunrider's systems so that it can also operate in the ion storm - seeming to make a show of putting complete faith in her against the Prototypes - as the rest of the Ryders focus on helping the active Alliance forces at the drydock in stalling the oncoming PACT assault, putting Chigara under an immense pressure to deliver lest the ship be destroyed in it's vulnerable state even as she assures she can manage it. But after several long minutes against steep odds, Chigara worriedly finds that her calculations weren't enough to compensate for the full intensity of the ion storm due to a mistaken reset-value in the calibrations, soon finding both Ava and, most distressingly, Asaga voicing doubt in Chigara's abilities to correct it. Having enough of being helpless in the face of what is seemingly her home's twisted legacy, Chigara becomes adamant that she can make the adjustments if given more time. Ultimately, Asaga's entering her "Awakened" state allows her to hold the Prototype's forces off long enough for Chigara to finish the recalibrations, enabling the Sunrider to offer support and finally drive the PACT forces back.
Upon returning to the hangar, Chigara tries to apologize to Kayto for her initial slip-up - only to be happily cut off as the Captain simply embraces her instead, though she becomes flustered by him showing such an open gesture of affection in front of the rest of the crew. However, Chigara finds that most of the crew seem to be supportive, if not celebratory, of the sight as Kayto proclaims Chigara a hero for her work and the other pilots carry her away - even Ava's doubts and cynical skepticism relents as she allows Chigara her moment. The only ones absent in the applause are Sola and Asaga - the latter of which opts to keep watch on the emotionally-deteriorating CAG as Chigara becomes the unknowing target of her best friend's resentment and envy.
Not long after though, Chigara's happiness is potentially undercut by apprehension as Kayto, after waiting for a more appropriate setting to do so, confesses Ava's suspicions that Chigara may be a Prototype that could have been feeding PACT information. The Commander's most likely theory is that that Chigara was severed from the Prototypes after or during the Diode Catastrophe like Lynn was at Helion and that, after entering the war and being exposed to them again, the Prototype's hivemind-consciousness might have started influencing her or allowing them to command her - possibly even against her will. While anxious - if not outright terrified - that she may discover herself to be an artificially-made human drone, Chigara resolves that they do need to find out once and for all whether she is or isn't part of the Prototypes, understanding Kayto's reasoning as he, while likely reluctant, has Chigara submitted to a medical examination by Claude so as to confirm or refute Ava's suspicions.
After a through analysis - which may or may not have resulted in a horrifically-mortifying experience for Chigara at the hands of Claude - the medical officer claims that she could find, much to the engineer's overjoyed relief, no evidence that Chigara wasn't a simple human like the rest of the crew. Kayto accepts this readily, though Ava remains skeptical for a few moments longer before finally apologizing to Chigara for having suspected her so readily, though Chigara replies that she understands Ava's reasons - due to having had severe doubts herself about her humanity when learning of the Prototypes - and asks that Ava not regret doing her duty of looking out for the ship's safety. Soon after Ava departs, Chigara is cleared by Claude to return to engineering - though not before glimpsing the sight of a mirthful Claude grinning at a red-faced Kayto as she teases him privately out of earshot, offering Kayto a telling "prescription" of numbing lubricants for an upcoming "big day", though Chigara either does not catch on or desperately pretends not to so as to avoid another awkward situation in the med-bay like the first time.
Personality & Traits
Having grown up with found memories of loving parents and an environment where it was easy to see life from multiple points of view, Chigara grew up with with an innate curiosity to learn about the world around her, likely attributing to her propensity to look at the galaxy as never being purely black and white and that everything tends to have a reason behind something happening - be it chance or the result of someone's choices. After losing her entire past and family in the Diode Catastrophe, Chigara additionally developed a deep sympathy for life in general as she was able to appreciate the things most might take for granted, such as having a home to return to or a family to love. This same compassion also leads Chigara to feel pity or remorse for even the most vicious and immoral of enemies - one such example being the mission against the slavers, where Chigara expressed as much open horror at Asaga's willingness to abandon the criminals to empty space as she did to the slavery itself. However, this empathy has been shown to have limits, as Chigara does not show regret the deaths of unrepentant monsters such as Veniczar B. Cullen, and it is also a primary motivator in why Chigara took to fighting against Cosette Cosmos' bloodthirsty command on Tydaria and later on against PACT's ruthless slaughter in the Neutral Rim - even if she dislikes spilling blood and wishes for an alternative to combat, it does not mean she will disagree with the notion that someone deserves to either die or be stopped.
Chigara's life growing up among scientists serves as a deep contrast for her more compassionate side, allowing her to see both ends of the spectrums regarding the more difficult decisions one may be faced with in war - during the Incident at Versta, if the diplomats were abandoned to PACT, Chigara expresses sorrow and horror at the deaths of the children aboard the Agamemnon, yet still talks down Asaga from disobeying Kayto's order by arguing the action as necessary to limit PACT's conquest. This combination of empathy and logical reason may also have contributed to Chigara's own crippling shyness around others, in that she has become overly-sensitive to how both sides in a conflict can potentially be justified if worded the correct way, and also may be the root of her own habitual indecisiveness as she continually struggles between balancing empathy and reason with the long-term and short-term results. It also makes Chigara incredibly understanding and forgiving of cynical actions, including ones directed towards and detrimental to herself - such as when she expressed no ill will towards Ava for suspecting Chigara to be a Prototype, denoting that Ava was simply doing her duty in heading up ship security. However, after her identity as 'Chigara Ashada' was thrown into doubt by Lynn and the Prototypes, Chigara finally began to develop a more cynical side to her personality and started to more passionately and staunchly argue her beliefs on morality, as well as hesitating to forgive even close friends if they violated these beliefs and endangered what she cared about in the process. This was evidenced when, at the peek of the rift between herself and Asaga, Chigara all but confessed that fear of the self-righteousness Asaga had developed had kept her from trying to reconnect to her once-best friend, remarking on how the self-styled Sharr could now kill in cold blood for her belief of justice and that, in spite of their former friendship, she wouldn't hesitate to consider Asaga an enemy if the latter did anything to betray Kayto's faith.
The concepts of love and family are very important to Chigara, due both to her own found memories of childhood and the fact that she can never return to those gentler times, which lets Chigara easily emphasize with those who have also experienced a similar loss. She appears to believe that family is perhaps the most important thing one can have in their lives, feeling that one's convictions are strengthened when those they care about are involved and that one's experiences are highlighted by sharing them with those they love. This empathy for fellow 'orphans' was a large factor in her initial desire to become closer to Kayto as she felt he was a kindred spirit, due to the loss of his world and family to PACT - and it might have also been, to a lesser extent, helpful in Chigara's acclimatizing to Icari after the mercenary joined the crew. It can also be speculated that Chigara's desire to have a family may also have been a primary factor in her desire to be with Kayto out of a sense of dependence - after having spent to long living either independently or looking after Asaga, it is possible that the idea of having someone else care about her so unconditionally made it hard for Chigara not to develop feelings for Kayto. Her beliefs on familial love being paramount were a large reason why Chigara had been so accepting of Asaga's choice to flee Ryuvia, and provide a source of resentment for those who appear to take such things for granted - as shown in how Chigara expressed genuine anger toward Asaga's father for having seemingly betrayed his daughter by gifting her to Arcadius in a political marriage.
One of Chigara's defining character traits is her extremely generous spirit, expressed in that she seems to strongly believe hope springs eternal - that no matter what happens, there will be a brighter future in the end so long as one continues to strive for it. This is likely another of the many facets of her personality that were defined by the Diode Catastrophe, at first as a way of coping with her despair and later on as the reason she would pick as the driving force for her to keep going, citing that it was either hope for a better tomorrow or let her sorrows in the present drag her down into oblivion. It was also of her many interconnected reasons for wanting to be close with Kayto, hoping that she might be able to take away some of the severe emotional burdens of command and solitude that he normally kept hidden from the rest of the crew. She wishes to find the best possible outcome for all parties involved, even when it is obvious that conflict is likely the only answer. She holds an unshakable faith in her comrades, seeing them as an adoptive family, and trusting them enough to believe that they will always act in a way that they feel is for the best - and is willing to forgive them in the event that they cannot forgive themselves. However, this does not extend to those she feels have proven irredeemable, though even with those cruel individuals she sometimes expresses a desire to know why they chose the paths they did, even if it ends up being a rationale she cannot accept or approve of. Gradually though, this more self-centered side of Chigara became more and more pronounced as time went on, possibly due to the impending doubts about her origins as a possible Prototype and individuality as a person coming into question, growing more selfish as she opted to cling doggedly to what she felt proved herself a 'real person' - her feelings for Kayto Shields.
A primary aspect of Chigara's personality is her extremely high intellect, with most regarding her as being an outright genius by normal standards. She is capable both in linear and abstract sciences and possesses a remarkably adaptive comprehension of technology and physics, able to study and gradually comprehend the functions of Sola vi Ryuvia's Ryder, the Seraphim, in spite of it being leagues above anything modern technology could ever produce. She is an outstanding mechanic and technician, capable of providing substantial upgrades to the capabilities and armaments of both the Sunrider and it's Ryders for relatively low prices, using innovative work-arounds and re-tooling existing components to drastically increase efficiency. She is also able to efficiently multi-task between widely-varying fields, such as how she can easily switch between the many different cyberwarefare programs of the Liberty and operate it's remote drones with relative ease - as well as being able to provide field-repairs to the ship and Ryders; even Sola's Seraphim in spite of having little time to study it. A lifelong exposure to the sciences has also instilled Chigara with a lasting fondness for the multiple fields not just as a career choice but as a method of recreation, easily burying herself in her work at any time and becoming engrossed to the point of losing her awareness for her surroundings - even her love of baking can be potentially traced back to a fascination with chemistry, while her skills at piloting a Ryder could be linked to studies in machinery operation and technology. However, in spite of being a self-proclaimed "gearhead", Chigara has a much greater fondness for the art of baking as it is her favored recreational hobby, often working on creating pastries as a way to relax. This may connect to Chigara's desire to not be recognized as an innovator of the sciences as baking is perhaps the one of the few options Chigara has that would not result in any of her creations being re-appropriated for designs she didn't intend it for, as so many other scientific creations often are.
Out of the many things Chigara fears, the deepest is arguably a fear of failure - while she is not afraid to die in battle for the sake of her friends, she is seemingly terrified of the idea that she may fail in such a way that one of them dies because of her, which intriguingly seems to make her more frightened of trying and failing then of not trying at all due to the fact that, if something fails, she will be the only one she could or would hold accountable. In fact, one could speculate that she fears losing her friends and her friendships more then losing her own life - a cruel irony when compared to how her desire to be closer with Kayto caused her to start unwittingly driving away Asaga. Likewise, it can be inferred that Chigara's fear of failure may be, at least in part, born of a fear of loneliness and abandonment, frightened that her failure may result in her being left alone as her friends either die or potentially blame her for a perceived deficiency. The Novelization highlights this by displaying that, while she normally is rather relaxed with her job, Chigara will often overwork herself to the point of being sick with fatigue if it is for the sake of the crew. This same fear of being alone - of wanting companionship and love - may also have been a key reason why Chigara was always reluctant to confess her feelings to Kayto, having never been in love before and therefore not knowing if she could potentially cope with the loneliness born of an unfulfilled and one-sided attachment. It may also lend itself to why Chigara is capable of working so relatively well under pressure in spite of her typically-anxious personality, able to use her fear as a source of determination in order to prevent losing anyone close to her.
In spite of her courteous and kind nature, Chigara can be regarded as having a more selfish side as well, seemingly evidenced in how she actively prioritized getting closer to Kayto over trying to discern the source of Asaga's building change in personality. Over time, Chigara's actions became almost blatant favoritism towards wanting to by the Captain's side, eventually getting to the point that she would voluntarily come to see him at every possible opportunity - yet failing to show such proactive attentiveness in mending her ever-more distant relationship to Asaga, in spite of having known and cared about the latter for far longer. However, this might also potentially be due to Chigara having an exceedingly high expectation for trust among those she cares about, meaning that she may simply have disregarded the idea that her friendship with Asaga was even being strained, let alone rapidly deteriorating - or that, quite simply, she trusted that Asaga would have openly sought out and told Chigara if there was an issue they needed to work out. Either way, both point to the idea that Chigara, if nothing else, has a very difficult time seeing or believing that someone would have negative feelings towards her, not able to comprehend that anything about her striving to be kind to everyone might actually have the opposite effect - an ideal that can be seen as anywhere from selfish and naive to simply innocent and hopeful.
It also points to one of Chigara's more prominent deficiencies - her lack of social awareness. Having lived the majority of her early life on an isolated colony, Chigara had very little interaction with any sort of culture or social life outside her family and their close friends and was already inclined to be naturally shy around strangers. Combined with the trauma she would later suffer when losing her home and living alone as a refugee, Chigara was left a quiet, introverted individual who had little reason to try and connect to others outside of casual courtesy and with somewhat distorted perception of the world. In turn, Chigara, while kind-natured, shows a distinct inability to properly read people in casual conversation and a tendency to miss social ques, with Kayto - due to his similar experiences of sorrow - seeming to be the only person aboard the Sunrider that she has been able to connect with in such a way as to go beyond even her best friend Asaga. Chigara is well aware of her relative social ineptitude and is therefore very nervous in large groups and easily flustered by unexpected compliments, not used to casual interaction from people she is not acquainted with beforehand and generally anxious about conversational topics as she has no real knowledge of anything outside sciences - which feeds back into itself as it leaves her feeling perpetually insecure about being able to communicate with others and hold a conversation. Chigara also remarks that, in spite of wishing to be a baker over a scientist, her awkwardness in socializing is likely why she prefers working on machines to interacting with people - namely that machines are easier to repair if damaged or broken and they are incapable of holding grudges or misunderstanding others.
Chigara is, by nature, an almost excessively-humble person, constantly downplaying the extent of her intelligence compared to most people or the remarkable nature of some of her projects and efforts. She displayed a distinct lack of understanding for why Arcadius was so obsessed with ownership of the galaxy, feeling that having just one piece of the universe to call home and be accepted in should be enough for anybody to be happy with. This humility also causes Chigara to become easily surprised and flustered by how most everyone else is left awed by her intellect or when she is complimented for it at length, often wishing that she not be idolized and instead be treated as simply another human. Chigara herself is notably hyper-aware of her social awkwardness and lack of experience interacting with groups, admitting that she doesn't trust her skills at reading people very well and thus is perpetually afraid of misreading a situation and causing a dispute. As such, Chigara tends to isolate herself and focus on either her work or her hobbies, with the only exception being her time playing games with Asaga or, later on, having tea with Kayto. However, these same factors may also be a key aspect of her wish to settle down in a community and own a bakery - namely that Chigara possesses a desire to simply be accepted or even loved for who she is; not as a scientist, engineer or war hero but simply as a girl who is no more or less special or superior to anyone else. Likewise, it is possible her love of baking might also be out of the desire to do something that helps her become part of a community as someone that helps build upon and improve it and vice-versa. However, this does not mean Chigara necessarily dislikes being favored at times, feeling overjoyed when the crew celebrated her as a hero as it seemed to reinforce Kayto's trust in her having been well-placed, as well as dispel some of her own doubts about herself.
In spite of her largely antisocial nature, Chigara can be regarded as someone who is very interdependent on the friendships she has in order to function when faced with tense situations, which in turn ties into one of her greater fears - a fear of being helpless, unable to assist those she cares about in their time of need. She suffered a severe emotional breakdown when Kayto was taken prisoner by Cosette on Ongess, and in the Novelization she broke into tears when Asaga left the Sunrider to give herself up to Veniczar Cullen in order to spare the Sunrider from his fleet. Later on, upon the unmasking of Arcadius to the galaxy, Chigara underwent another collapse as everything she believed about herself and her past was brought into question, descending into panicked screaming when 'Arcadius' taunted her over the comm frequencies as being her "Sister". Without the presence of others to rely on in these times, it is likely that Chigara might not have recovered very easily or been driven to extremes she never would contemplate beforehand, with the most likely outcome being that she would be internally torn apart by her own indecisions on what to do. This in turn can be derived from the idea that, in spite of having an unchanging wish, Chigara lacks the confidence in herself to make the right choices, resulting in her becoming reliant on others for their input and in turn supporting their own judgements - something evidenced by how, when Kayto asked Chigara about the Incident at Versta , she expressed a lack of confidence in herself to know what the best choice would be. This can also be seen as a more negative aspect of her humble nature in that she does not feel she has more right to make a choice then anyone else, her humility almost becoming a state of self-devaluation, though it is offset in that she always tries to be the support for those around her as best she can.
Kayto Shields - Initially having met him as just another client, Kayto would eventually become one of the closest people to Chigara after joining the Sunrider's crew and ultimately the object of her affections. Having quickly developed an immense respect for him as the last captain of his world's now-defunct fleet, Chigara saw him as a brave, handsome and compassionate man burdened with the pressures of command. She later sympathized with Kayto as someone who had lost everything of his past life and family right before his eyes, understanding the burden that came with being orphaned. Coupled together with a sense of awe and concern for how someone with such pain was able to keep making hard choices in a war he never asked for, Chigara initially wanted to get close to Kayto simply to try and alleviate some of the emotional weight that he'd been carrying, which gradually became more pronounced as time went on. Additionally, Kayto - even with his duties as the ship's captain - often took the time to visit Chigara as he would for many of the crew, amazing Chigara at how Kayto, after all he'd endured, could continue checking up on everyone aboard his ship on a regular basis, leaving her touched by his sense of compassion for those under his command - as well as the fact that few people proactively made the time to come see her aside from Asaga.
Like Chigara herself, Kayto was someone who felt the weight of every life after losing his world, hyper-aware of how every choice had repercussions but finding different ways to cope with it - as a 'Moralist', he dealt with his inner darkness by clinging fiercely to his humanity and decency, while as a 'Prince' he coped by devoting himself towards eradicating the faction that caused so much grief to everyone. They also shared a similar sense of compassion for those they held close, willing to do whatever was needed to save or help them without a moment's hesitation, and neither one truly had any wish to continue the endless nightmare of war forever. Another similarity was that Kayto also buried much of his past traumas away, trying to avoid it being dredged up in conversation and often talking without actually saying anything about himself, and effectively lived solely off of the hope that he would either see or make a better day just as she had after Diode. However, Kayto differed from Chigara in that he was much more outgoing and social then she was, seeking people out to speak with instead of waiting for them to come to him, yet at the same time was far more adept at hiding his inner demons - at least until the Battle of Helion - and that, in a way, he was far braver as he was willing to shoulder the burdens of being responsible for everyone's lives in a way that Chigara never felt she herself could ever be.
By the time of the Alliance-PACT War, Chigara's feelings toward Kayto, initially a crush on him due to being an attractive young captain - analogous to a storybook hero - had grown to the point that the engineer was contemplating whether or not she was in love, though was too anxious and scared of rejection to ever come forward with her feelings. She expressed sadness at how, in spite of his frequency in checking on the crew and getting them to open up to him, Kayto himself had never opened up to many others and locked his own heartaches away, prompting concern about his emotional state, yet she concluded that nothing she could say would ever force Kayto to trust her with his unguarded self - it was something only he alone could choose to do, not something she could persuade him for. In the end, she decided her feelings did not need to be expressed, resolving that if she truly cared about Kayto that all she really needed to do was be there for him, regardless of if he ever learned of, acknowledged or returned her feelings.
Eventually, Chigara became an emotional support for Kayto as they often shared tea in his cabin, though Claude and Icari would often tease and encourage Chigara about making the relationship more sordid or romantic, feeding into Chigara's infatuation with Kayto as a man - though she would persistently deny or become flustered by remarks on more lewd aspects. However, after the Battle of Helion, these feelings finally culminated in Chigara realizing she well and truly loved Kayto because she'd connected with him as a fellow child of tragedy and because she understood him as opposed to his simply being attractive, willing to console him on the loss of his homeworld and not judge him for it. In turn, she vowed to keep Kayto's shame a secret, coming to recognize how important his image was to the crew as that of the unshakable leader.
Asaga Oakrun - In spite of their opposing personalities, Asaga was the very first person Chigara connected with after the destruction of her homeword, meeting her several years after arriving on Ryuvia Prime - where Asaga verbally attacked several strangers Chigara had asked for help, mistaking them as having harassed her. After getting to know her, Chigara had been shocked to learn Asaga was Ryuvia's crown princess, though befriended her nonetheless on the latter's request that her royal heritage not impact how Chigara viewed her. The two then became best friends and even close to surrogate sisters as they looked out for one-another, culminating in Chigara helping Asaga run away from Ryuvia when her father forced her into a pre-arranged marriage to Veniczar S. Arcadius.
A stark contrast from Chigara's demure attitude, Asaga serves as a boisterous, energetic and quick-to-action individual who has no reservations about doing what she believes is right and acting on it immediately - an assured confidence and steadfast independence that Chigara admits to envying and idolizing. On the other hand, Chigara is often left concerned by Asaga's more foolhardy nature at times, constantly worrying for her safety and trying her best to watch her back whenever possible - compensating for her deficiencies the same as Asaga compensates for her own. Contrasting this, they both share a common sense of compassion and trying to follow a code of ethics, though Asaga often seems to be more extreme in her pursuit of Justice, and both are very capable mechanics, though Chigara is notably superior in her knowledge of technology. Years of working side-by-side with one-another eventually lead to the two becoming practically like sisters, easily able to tell what the other would do or know how the other might think or feel.
However, this relationship became severely strained as the Alliance-PACT War dragged on, as - in spite of their close friendship - Chigara failed to notice that Asaga was attracted to Kayto Shields the same as Chigara herself was. While Asaga supported Chigara's efforts in getting closer to Kayto - albeit only after being unwillingly forced Icari - she became progressively more distant to Chigara, and Chigara in turn didn't seem to afford the same degree of attention to Asaga regarding the loss of her homeworld Ryuvia as she did for Kayto over his own lost homeworld of Cera. Chigara additionally never seemed to prioritize finding out the reason for Asaga's decline, being either too distracted by her own pursuit of Kayto, too uncertain and anxious of setting Asaga off to ask what was bothering the Ryuvian pilot, too confident that Asaga would come to her if it was a serious problem, or a mixture of all three. In the end, an inability to communicate from both sides, combined with an arguably preferential treatment of Chigara in pushing her to confess to Kayto, lead to their friendship slowly but surely deteriorating. This division peeked after the Second Battle of Helion, in which Chigara witnessed Asaga's willingness to kill the injured and defenseless Cosette Cosmos in cold blood simply because she presumed to embody 'justice' - which made the horrified engineer to feel as though the good-natured girl she'd befriended had slipped away, causing Chigara to isolate herself from Asaga out of fear towards the self-proclaimed Sharr.
Icari Isidolde - Having met the Mercenary under tense circumstances to say the least, Chigara was perhaps one of the more openly-accepting of Icari joining the Sunrider crew, possibly figuring into Icari also being someone who had lost her previous life and entire family in front of her. In turn, because of this openly accepting nature, Icari tends to tease Chigara less often then she will for others though will sometimes regard Chigara as naive because of it, while Chigara sees Icari as someone who has been left very jaded from her life experiences and carrying a very deep emotional scar from the loss of her family. Much of Chigara's sympathy might also stem from seeing Icari as a possible alternative-version of herself - a reflection of how Chigara could have eventually ended up an embittered mercenary as well, if not for her befriending Asaga. In contrast to Chigara being shy, honest and easily-anxious, Icari is outwardly very confident, cynical and sarcastic, though deep down proves to be similarly sensitive for her friends, and Chigara ends up coming to Icari regarding advice on how to approach Kayto
Claude Triello - The faux-doctor is, quite literally, the complete and utter opposite of Chigara - she is tall, buxom, flirtatious, confident and outgoing whereas Chigara is small, petite, shy and withdrawn. She is a layabout, disorganized, absent-minded and loose-lipped in contrast to Chigara's diligent, organized, well-kept and anxious demeanor, yet there is one sole thing the two share - an affection for Kayto Shields. But in spite of this seemingly perfect situation for the formation of a rivalry, Claude ironically proves to be Chigara's biggest supporter in pursuing Kayto, which Chigara tentatively accepts - in spite of being regularly embarrassed, if not outright mortified, by many of Claude's teasing comments about her less-developed body, her immense shyness or whether or not she and Kayto will become sexually intimate. In turn, she may be just as easily intimidated by Claude's straightforwardness as she is impressed by it - therefore, it is unlikely if Chigara sees Claude as an awkward friend or a nosy acquaintance, though it is doubtful either way that Chigara possesses the force of will to turn her aside even if she wanted to.
Ava Crescentia - The working relationship between Chigara and Ava is, unsurprisingly, a strictly professional one; Chigara respects Ava's dedication and diligence to her position and the ship's safety, whereas Ava respects Chigara's skill and provocativeness. She held no ill will toward Ava for initially being skeptical of her, seeming to understand why the Commander would be weary of anyone coming aboard the ship - especially for anyone taking over the role of keeping the entire ship maintained. Chigara also likely holds great respect for Ava's steadfast confidence in deciding a course and standing beside it, which in turn helps make her a counterbalance for the more abstract and unorthodox Kayto as a safety net.
Sola vi Ryuvia - Chigara has, to date, not interacted with Sola enough to form a bond much deeper then that of a rudimentary acquaintance, though Sola's self-appointed position as Asaga's retainer would likely ensure they spoke at least a few times while serving on the Sunrider. Much like Chigara herself, Sola is quiet and withdrawn and tends to find solace on in being her own, though Chigara is possibly left intimidated by Sola's more intense and stoic personality compared to her own. Chigara may hold a degree of respect for how Sola's only wish seems to be the preservation of Ryuvia and it's legacy, though may also be saddened by how this is practically Sola's only aspiration for her life - yet it is also possible that Chigara regards Sola as dependable enough a presence to entrust Asaga's protection to. However, if this is true, it may have ironically backfired and been a contributor in why Chigara never put much of a focus on repairing her degrading friendship with Asaga, having believed the Ryuvian's distant next-of-kin would be better suited to the task.
Kryska Stares - Chigara has interacted very little with the Alliance Liaison, though she seems to show Kryska the same differential respect she does for any other member of the Sunrider's crew. It is possible that she both respects and is slightly intimidated by Kryska's strong, confident and dedicated personality as well as her skill at ordinance, as well as the bravery it takes to charge straight into the front lines and serve as the vanguard for the other Ryders, her own machine being specified to defense and bombardment while Chigara's is regulated to support and repair. Chigara may also respect Kryska's defined principles, seeing her as steadfast enough to consider a good friend even in the absence of being deeply acquainted.
Veniczar S. Arcadius - By her own admission, Chigara was left deeply intimidated by the PACT leader's cruelty and callous disregard for human lives in exchange for getting what he wanted, denoting him as being one of the few beings she would ever call irredeemably evil. Yet, much to her confusion and possibly deeper fear, she found Arcadius' voice and demands to be almost hypnotic in nature, likening it to a siren's call. This connection took a horrifying turn when, at the Second Battle of Helion, it was revealed Chigara and Arcadius shared the same face and that the PACT dictator was actually a collective force of artificial humans called Prototypes - all of which shared Chigara's DNA as a seeming baseline and were allegedly manufactured at Chigara's homeworld of Diode. However, Chigara ultimately was shown as lacking many of their more combat-centric and intelligence-boosting genetic enhancements, making her either a specially-tailored Prototype meant to pass as human or as possibly being a regular human whom the Prototypes used either her or her parent's DNA as their genetic template - neither of which was possible to truly confirm or deny.
Veniczar B. Fontana - While he serves as Arcadius' right-hand, Asaga's story of her respectful treatment from him likely gave Chigara a far better impression of Fontana then she had for the rest of PACT's Veniczar's. While she feared him as a dangerous and clever opponent that could match even Kayto in tactics, Chigara possibly had a respect for Fontana's more honorable or civil side, and this likely increased with the display of his moral conduct as he overthrew Arcadius when the latter tried to enact a near-genocidal slaughter at Helion.
Veniczar B. Cullen - Chigara held little opinion of Cullen, likely regarding him as little more then simply another PACT Veniczar, if not an excessively dangerous one for his temper and influence in PACT. This might possibly have changed after the fall of Ryuvia, which Cullen proclaimed himself as governor of shortly before his death at Asaga's hands, with Chigara likely not regretting the obtuse Venizcar's death.
King Jaylor XII - Chigara had likely met Jaylor at least a few times in the years she knew Asaga on Ryuvia, though not extremely well it seemed as Asaga likely tried to keep Chigara away from the complications of a royal's life. She expressed a rare anger at the idea that a parent like Jaylor could ever approve of trading away his daughter in a pre-arranged marriage organized for political reasonings - however, it's possible these feelings changed after it was discovered that Jaylor only agreed to the marriage for Asaga's sake, claiming it was the only way Arcadius would ever spare Asaga's life.
Characters in Sunrider
|Sunrider Crew||Kayto Shields (Academy) - Ava Crescentia (Academy) - Asaga Oakrun (Academy) - Chigara Lynn Ashada (Academy) - Icari Isidolde - Claude Triello - Sola vi Ryuvia (Academy) - Kryska Stares|
|PACT||Veniczar S. Arcadius - Veniczar B. Cullen (Academy) - Veniczar B. Fontana (Academy) - Veniczar A. Kuushana|
|Solar Alliance||Admiral Harold Grey - Admiral Madeline Grey|
|Prototypes||Alpha - Alice - Lynn (Academy)|
|Other||Maray Shields (Academy) - Cosette Cosmos - Sophita Brooks|